Sticks and stones might break my bones, but name calling hurts too. Whoever penned the old rhyme that claims verbal abuse packs a smaller punch likely wasn’t called too many names.
Forgive and forget is another phrase perhaps spoken by some well-intentioned person. It all sounds good on paper but is so much harder in practice. What if the offender isn’t sorry, or worse, refuses to stop? What if the perpetrator is stuck in a pattern of sin that continues to hurt you? What if the culprit is dead and can’t be sorry?
No one wrote a rhyme about this.
These thoughts stir my soul and bring anger to a boil. It’s harder to forgive an unrepentant person. It’s harder to forgive when the world tells you that your anger is justified. It’s harder to forgive when it costs you so much. But forgiveness always comes at great cost.
Forgiveness isn’t free
“Mercy and forgiveness must be free and unmerited to the wrongdoer. If the wrongdoer has to do something to merit it, than it isn’t mercy, but forgiveness always comes at a cost to the one granting the forgiveness.”
~ Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the heart of the Christian faith.
Christ freely extends forgiveness, but it cost Him much. It wasn’t fair. It physically hurt, but he loved us too much to withhold it. He died for us while we continued to sin. Someone always pays for forgiveness.
This time that someone is me.
God has called me to set aside my rights and seek Him. He has asked me to do the hard work of cultivating a heart that forgives those who don’t know, appreciate, or understand how their actions have affected the people I love and me.
The beautiful truth
I can forgive someone who isn’t sorry because Christ forgave me. I didn’t deserve it back then when He died for all mankind, and I certainly don’t deserve it now. Yet, I’m forgiven.
The good news that brought me to a saving knowledge of Christ requires me to apply that good news to every moment of life. God can and will provide for my needs and answer my heart cry as I seek His face. Christ died for the sinner who wronged me and died for the sinner that is me. He loves us both.
We must work out our salvation in moments like these. We must turn toward God and repent of our bitter hearts and trust that He is all we need. As we do that, the anger, disbelief, and rage—yes rage—will lessen.
The kind of surrender God asks of His children isn’t a one time, say it right, get it right, never have to do it again deal. Trust me. I wrote a book about it. It’s ongoing. It’s a daily dying to self. It is a choice we make because we love Him because He first loved us. That makes today a good day to die to self for the glory of God. There is no right that I can surrender on earth that I will regret in glory.
Lord, may it be so.