FORGIVENESS is no easy matter in some circumstances, yet there was a time when I thought it was easy; a time when I was naïve enough to think I was particularly graced with the gift of forgiveness. God has since shown me something.
We forgive easily when we understand someone has hurt us who doesn’t apparently have the capacity to love. But when a person betrays us who’s earned our trust; that’s a completely different matter.
So, loving our enemies is easy, and it’s our friends that let us down we find unforgiveable. Add to this our family. We expect better. But for those we don’t have any expectation of, our understanding and forgiveness is but a transaction — if, that is, we’re schooled in the powerful college of merciful grace.
How can having this knowledge help us? Again, it’s about expectations. When we get close enough to people to trust them, we also begin to expect they’ll respect that trust. But if someone we don’t know harms us, we may still be upset, but their transgression is easier to forgive — they just didn’t understand. And how could they? They’re forgiven.
Loving our enemies is easy in comparison to forgiving our friends when we perceive that they’ve betrayed us. How do we recover when our Christian friend has hurt us, and refuses to acknowledge it? Can we think of a brother or sister in Christ as an enemy — surely not! But they’re harder to forgive than the person who openly, from the get go, resists us.
None of this is downplaying what Jesus taught in His Sermon on the Mount. Of course we must love and forgive our enemies.
We need Jesus’ help more in forgiving our friends who act like enemies than we do loving our enemies who have never been our friends.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.