“…Forgive one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32b KJV
There is a whole section of our society that refuses to grow up. Granted there are some who come from environments that didn’t spur them on to maturity. They probably had parents that also never grew up and maybe even grandparents. What we have then is a whole section of society that has lived their whole lives receiving aid in one form or the other. Not only that they have been brought up to believe someone else is suppose to take care of them. I’m not against helping others, but what if they never grow up? What’s the solution?
Yesterday I spoke with a young man I first met in jail. He came over to me and started telling me about his stepfather and how he isn’t what he seems to be. He said, “He’s got the church deceived, but I know what he does.” He continued and finally came to his real problem. He tells me his stepfather always wants money from him and says to me “I know I have to love him but can’t I love him from a distance?” There is hurt and unforgiveness between them, and he seems stuck.
As he talked and I listened the time finally came for me to respond. I shared with him how forgiveness wasn’t just for the stepfather it was for him too. Sometimes we withhold forgiveness from someone thinking they don’t deserve it. It’s as if we think if we forgive them we’re letting them off the hook and they’re getting away with something.
At the root of unforgiveness really is a debt owed isn’t it? We don’t want to forgive others until we feel the debt has been paid. The problem with that is most of the time the debt will never be paid and it turns into a never ending cycle of them attempting to make things right and we just keep raising the stakes on them. What we’re really doing is holding them hostage.
I’ll never forget hearing someone describe unforgiveness as “Drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Forgiveness takes maturity. An immature person can’t do it. In fact only Christ himself can forgive and if we don’t learn to let him do it through us we will remain in conflict with one another. We have to choose to love others and forgive them, but when it comes right down to it we, in ourselves, have no ability to do it. This is where we have to look to God and say, “Lord, by myself I can’t do this but through you I can do all things.”
When parents and step parents refuse to grow up we can’t expect their children to be any different. As always the answer is Jesus Christ. He is the only way to maturity or wholeness. If the truth is told, once the Spirit of God lives in you maturity has come. Our problem has to be either we haven’t learned how to walk in the Spirit or we are simply choosing to remain in the fleshly mind. Either way forgiveness will only come by way of letting God have his way in and through our lives.
Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I’ve heard many say what he means is we have to learn to love ourselves before we can love others, but I don’t think that’s what he’s saying. I think he’s saying, “We are to love others, as if they are ourselves…because they are.” We are one in Christ; we are the body; so in this sense my neighbor and I are one and the same.
My conversation with this man ended with him shaking my hand and saying thank you. When I find myself talking to someone about forgiveness there usually isn’t much to say. Either they are going to choose to forgive or not. Most know forgiveness is necessary yet they want so badly not to, and I think it is about control. If I forgive you then I’m giving up control of the situation and I don’t think I can trust God to take care of it. Oh no, I would never say that! I know you would never say it, but isn’t that really what’s going on here? We have to let God handle these things, and the only way is for us to release that person through forgiveness. Wasn’t it God who said, “I will repay, saith the Lord?”
Written by Louie