If I could only impart one trait to my children, I would choose forgiveness and compassion for others. We naturally think of these as important gifts for those that have hurt or disappointed us. But this isn’t about those people. While it is potentially critical for them–water for starving souls, these are even more important for the transgressed. If I could only impart one thing to the precious hearts I’m responsible for, I choose the center piece of many of Jesus’ parables and His ministry.
They are stated explicitly and expressed implicitly throughout the Old Testament. Then, with Jesus, they come to life. He placed forgiveness and compassion as the cornerstones of life. And then, after I experienced them myself, everything changed!
First, I received forgiveness and compassion–the big kind. I never really got how critical they are until I was in an extraordinarily dark place and unreasonable light shone on my face. I’m still mystified by the strange and inexplicable things that came from those events. But I know something now that perhaps I never could have learned any other way.
Second, I experienced unforgiveness and cold insensitivity–the big kind. I never really got how evil that is. Yes, evil is the right word. Satan can gain a foothold in those situations. It’s terrifying. I don’t think most people truly understand the imprint animosity and unforgiveness can leave on an individual’s life. This too, has changed me.
The foundations of who I am and what I believe have changed irreversibly.
Murderers and thieves have a place they can run to. There is hope for them. They can run away from sin and turn to God and He will receive them with open arms. But people who do not forgive others have nowhere to turn. There is nothing left for them.
In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.
Mathew 6:14-15, MSG
Without forgiveness, the transgressed and the transgressor are left to the pattern of this world; you can call it the law of entropy, but it’s only temporary. It’s the pattern of destruction and death we see all around us. Forgiveness breaks this cycle of sin and spiritual disease. It’s our only hope for life and love.
the wounded narcissist
They were the religious leaders of Jesus’ time. They still are, today. They are the antithesis of the kingdom of God. They cast aside people’s hearts for an overshadowing concern with “right actions”. They are righteous unforgivers; they are dangerous.
the birth of religiosity
Having suffered a traumatic, self-demeaning wound, they begin down a path. They find, in religion, a way to feel upright and acceptable. There is a place for them in the universe, once again. But without face-in-the-mud prostrate humility and brokenness, without the power of the cross of Christ, there is no true Love. In it’s place is something else. Perhaps it is outwardly more pleasant than murderers and thieves. But, to Jesus, it is an impasse.
demons prey on them
Unforgiveness separates us from God like nothing else. If I had to choose between being a sinner and being unforgiving or arrogant, I would choose sinner. That wouldn’t of been my choice before I had personal experiences with this.
Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector makes much more sense to me, now. Jesus said only the tax collector went home “right with God”. Why exactly?! I don’t know. But I can tell you accurately how a sinner feels when Satan moves in on him after he has been judged and ridiculed by an arrogant unforgiving Christian. But, more importantly, I can elaborate in great detail about the miracles the Holy Spirit manifests when someone offers humility and forgiveness to one who has sinned against them.
Now is the time to forgive this man and help him back on his feet. If all you do is pour on the guilt, you could very well drown him in it. My counsel now is to pour on the love. The focus of my letter wasn’t on punishing the offender … after all, we don’t want to unwittingly give Satan an opening for yet more mischief—we’re not oblivious to his sly ways!
II Corinthians 2:5-11
an impostor of life that bleeds hope
The wounded narcissist is a continuous source of pain, death, and deterioration to those close to him–irregardless of how he acts. He has a disease that is unlike anything else. The impostor of life bleeds our hope; the hope that is our God-given centerpiece is replaced with absence and emptiness. The holy temple in our hearts is robbed.
The heart of God, throughout the Bible, is clearly Love and hope for every last person ever born on this earth. And His grace is more than enough for sinners–the trespasser and the trespassed.
Just as unforgiveness imbues pain and evil into human hearts. So, also, forgiveness, compassion, and gracious humility give way to earth-shattering forgiveness-miracles. When we drop our agendas and humbly forgive each other, inexplicable and uncontrollable miracles fill the void.
I want my children to experience the mysterious and amazing manifestation of God’s divine hand. I want them to be forever changed, like I was. And I hope it comes much earlier in their lives than it did in mine. Because it truly does change everything. Nothing looks the same ever again. The things that were so important, aren’t anymore. In fact, the old things became invisible. The kingdom of God replaces everything.
lay your wounds and pain bare
For God’s sake, don’t hide it. Don’t hide anything, for that matter. Is it so important to you that you’re a good person? You’re not. Jesus didn’t come to judge you. You can stop pretending. He came to save those in need of a doctor. And we are all in the exact same predicament. We need help, we need grace, we need forgiveness. And when we don’t need anything, that’s when our need is the greatest.
If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.
amazing things happen when you let go
We spend our lives controlling things. It’s assumed if you’re a human on planet earth. Yet, when it really matters, when it’s life or death–we let go and let God. We don’t raise our swords to the soldiers coming to take Jesus away. And what happens is amazing miracles. We don’t set the world right. We don’t fix broken people. We share their burdens and we bear with them in their pain. We forgive.
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide His garments.
Luke 23:34, ESV