Rising Above Humanness

Factor forgiveness into your system, even if you’re not a theologian, even if you’re not religious. As a believer you’ll tremendously need that in these days when brotherhood falling outs have become as common as common colds, when domestic estrangements become ordinary fares on TV, on the internet, at the breakfast table.  If you’re church-less, you’ll need forgiveness—-you too need to forgive or be forgiven—- in order to move on with life.

Forgiveness, as the song goes, is like seeing a bunch of yellow ribbons tied to the old oak tree: The people you had offended and sinned against are welcoming you back. Welcoming arms. It is a symbol too great to ignore. Not seeing that, you don’t get down from the bus of your life, you  just roll on, you go find yourself a hide-away where you can start a life, perhaps incognito.

They who have not forgiven you, you who have not been forgiven, are still entwined in that human fault that characterizes most men and women. To sin is a fault; to not forgive is also a fault.

Man is made to forgive and be forgiven. The fault of humanness is as old as Eden. When humanity left that garden, they never turned back. Their sinfulness made it next to impossible to turn back. To go back to that garden of God’s fellowship, we need the refreshing of the soul, even a little nod and a smile from heaven, telling us everything now is all right.

Some cannot forgive because they have a difficulty deleting the memories of the pains and hurts in their system; it takes a while, if not a long while, to forget them.  Maybe you have the resolve of an Elin Nordegren, and I cannot fault you. In fact I empathize.  If you had a spouse like Tiger Woods, who could in an interview still say “family comes first,” and keep on having trysts with 14 women of different stripes, I understand why you are Elin Nordegren. That pretty model turned celebrity wife, descendant of the Vikings, had in her system that iron will to not take things sitting down. Already she had consulted a lawyer about renegotiating the prenuptial agreement with Tiger Woods. Already she had arranged for one or two movers to haul their things. Already she and her billionaire golfer husband slept and ate separately. Divorce papers, to be filed in court as soon as the ink gets dry, will formalize their status: estranged  now, divorced forever.

That is why I can never be a spiritual advisor to an Elin Nordegren. There’s this family, four of whom I had the joy of seeing being admitted into the kingdom of Jesus years ago: The husband and his wife, his mother-in-law, and his sister-in-law. Five years into their spiritual journey they found themselves in a storm. Some winds blew with a great blast into their lives bringing with it problems that tried their strength and mettle: Husband’s joblessness, his vices, his fornication. The wife alone was the bread-winner. One night fresh from tutoring a Chinese lad, hungry and tired, she caught her husband and her sister doing their thing on their bed. Rage flew, plates and kettles found their targets. To escape the furor that arose over the scandal, the husband left home that night with his sister-in-law in tow, his partner in the crime so called.

Months, perhaps years later the husband came back. The wife could not forgive. No amount of scripture could turn her mind around. I was told the husband did not deserve any forgiveness because he never changed, he did not turn a new leaf.

I can’t blame you if you admire Elin Nordegren and seek to imitate her resolve to teach a lesson to a husband unyielding in his resolve to keep on sinning.

Not many seem to understand that forgiveness benefits more the one doing the act of forgiving than the one being forgiven: “If you will not forgive other people their trespasses, neither will your Father in heaven forgive you your trespasses.” For that reason, to be forgiving is to be spiritual.  It is to rise above our humanness.

You may forgive or you may not. It is your choice. Heaven, this you must know, shall be filled by people who made the right choices in this life.

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2 Responses

  1. Dear Ed,

    Thank you for the outstanding article on a timely topic: forgiveness.

    This subject has been the center of not a little debate and controversy within the brotherhood. I ask your understanding or opinion regarding the need to forgive the sinner.

    Must a Christian forgive the offender that refuses to cease offending? Jesus said to keep forgiving 70 times 7. However, God refuses to forgive the sinner that will not repent. Mustn’t we be like Him and withhold forgiveness from the stubborn?

    This question is very important because our very salvation hangs in the balance. If we refuse to forgive the sinner, we will not be forgiven our own sins against God. Who, exactly, are we expected to forgive, though? Only the penitent or all sinners?

    Mike

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