“Forgiveness is our deepest need and our highest achievement.”
Horace Bushnell –( minister and theologian in the 1800’s)
Our highest need!
Not only do we want to be forgiven, we need it! Without genuine forgiveness there can be no security in our relationships. I can safely draw near to God because I know that His forgiveness is unconditional towards me, a blessing I am profoundly grateful for!
Forgiveness is also our highest achievement!
“Forgiveness, of course is the virtue we most enjoy, and least employ, in our Christian experience. We all love to be forgiven – we expect it, and want it. But we find it a struggle to forgive; we resist it and refuse oftentimes to do it.” (pastor Ray Stedman) Our human nature would rather hold on to offense, rehearsing it to ourselves and sharing it with others. Finding comfort in self pity is deceptively satisfying at first, but self-pity is really self-centeredness in its most dangerous form because it distorts one’s vision about everything and everyone.
Beth Moore in Praying God’s Word defines forgiveness as “our determined and deliberate willingness to let something go – not haphazardly into the black hole of nonexistence but letting it go to God. Letting it go from our power to His. Forgiveness is the ongoing act by which we agree with God over the matter, practice the mercy He’s extended to us, and surrender the situation, the repercussions, and the hurtful person to Him.”
Has anyone ever offended you before? Of course the answer is YES! And if one’s vision is at all distorted by self pity, offense is quite easy to find, often right within the walls of one’s own home. But it’s an addictive and dangerous path that can alter the lives of each and every family member. Unforgiveness has a faithful twin named bitterness which “is like a rock thrown into a placid pond; after its initial splash, it sends out concentric circles that disturb the whole pond. It starts with ourselves, expands to our spouse, then to our children, friends and colleagues.” (Dr. Chuck Lynch in I should Forgive, but….)
We all know families that are broken because of offenses that remain unforgiven; Brothers and sisters who refuse to speak to each other; children who leave home deeply resenting their parents; parents who rail against their children who have disappointed them; husbands and wives who harbor such bitterness that eventually their covenant of marriage is dissolved. One of my siblings early on chose the path of self pity. It started out with a need to regularly find a way to feel offended at someone – a seemingly addictive need to blame another for her own dissatisfactions. Now in her fifties, she refuses to speak to any of her siblings. She has left her marriage and is no longer in a relationship with her adult children either. Self pity has deeply distorted her view on reality leading her to believe that everyone else has the problem and not her. I pity her. I try to reach out but she seems out of reach. She has placed herself into ” jail to be tortured” which is where each of us will wind up unless we forgive our brother and sister from our hearts. (Matthew 18:34-35)
If our homes are to be a place of rest and shelter, it begins with what is taking place within our hearts. If anger and unforgiveness are allowed to reside, they will result in bitter attitudes towards one another that have a caustic effect on each family member. We must intentionally and purposefully model forgiveness and teach the principles of forgiveness early on to our children.