Monday, July 20, 2009

Don't Drink the Poison!

Late last night, I enjoyed a 90-minute cyber-chat with a new friend. What started out with "hey / hey" soon became a moving, challenging, and very candid discussion on the touchy subject of forgiveness. I was excited to be able to share some of what God has been teaching me lately, through His word and through the wise counsel of others, and through Rick Warren's "40 Days of Love" study. The 90 minutes whizzed by, fingers flying across our keyboards as we dug deeper.

As I see it, here's the deal with forgiveness: as followers of Jesus, it's not so much an option, really. It's a non-negotiable, a mandate, a must-do... but it's also an invitation. When we are able to truly forgive others who have wronged us (and we have all been wronged, if we are alive on planet Earth), we enable ourselves to enter into peace -- God's peace. After all, when we harbor bitterness and unforgiveness toward another person, it is usually we who suffer, not the unforgiven. Holding onto unforgivess, so the saying goes, is like drinking poison -- and then waiting for the other person to die.

And furthermore, chosing to forgive a person does not let that person off the hook, as we may tend to assume. God is just; wrongdoing will be addressed, one way or another -- but it is HIS to address, not ours. When we forgive, we take the offender off of our "hook" and place them on God's "hook" where they belong. Let Him deal with them; He always does.

Now, this is where is can get tempting; we want to pray, "Git 'em, Lord! Sic 'em! Shatter their teeth upon the rocks!" (to borrow King David's request)... but we have to be prepared for God to have His way, whatever that may be. He may choose to bring about justice and give them a dose of "reality discpline" -- after all, vengeance belongs to the Lord. But... He may also choose to be merciful on them. Not what we want to hear, but it's always a real possibility. And honestly -- how many times has God chosen to be merciful toward us, when what we deserved was unyielding justice?

Anyway. It's a subject that could be discussed for hours, and I would probably enjoy such a discussion. Holding grudges seems to be an innate hangup for human beings; we can all relate. But there comes a time when we wise up and stop drinking the poison -- or, we die of it, one way or another.


  1. Great perspective, Jena.

    It brought to mind this Reliant K song which speaks to some of that human frustration.


    Oh yes, I know this tension that you speak of
    We're in the palm of a hand making a fist
    It'd be best for one of us to speak up
    But we prefer to pretend it does not exist

    And you can't see past the blood on my hands
    To see that you've been aptly damned
    To fail and fail again

    Cause we're all guilty of the same things
    We think the thoughts whether or not we see them through
    And I know that I have been forgiven
    And I just hope you can forgive me too

    So don't you dare blame me for
    Prying open the door
    That's unleashed the bitterness
    That's here in the midst of this
    Sometimes we live for no one but ourselves

    And what we've been striving for
    Has turned into nothing more
    Than bodies limp on the floor
    Victims of falling short
    We kiss goodbye the cheek of our true love

  2. I like this: Cause we're all guilty of the same things / We think the thoughts whether or not we see them through...

    So often we damn ourselves (as if it were possible to do so) for the very thoughts we think, when thoughts don't always equal action. While we are called to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, we also need to afford ourselves a little mercy for having had the thoughts in the first place. It's what we choose to do with the thoughts -- to act or not to act upon them -- that is our responsibility. Too often we ensnare ourselves in our own guilt, needlessly.