Friday, February 1, 2008

70 times 7, or no?

Where do you draw that line?

One of my greatest attributes is that I can forgive almost anyone for almost anything. I am so seriously flawed, and I appreciate not only God's grace (even though maybe I have a bit of trouble grasping/embracing it) but everyone around me 's extension of it. And I am a Christian, I was saved by grace and forgiveness. Thank Jesus.

One of my biggest faults is that I can forgive almost anyone for almost anything. I can forgive and forgive and get over it again and again and again. I will often say sorry, even when its not my fault exactly, so we can begin the healing process. It's not a fake apology, because I am sorry we fought and a disagreement ensued reproducing anger and hurt feelings. I have very little pride when it comes to this area. Basically, this ends up causing me hurt and enabling people to see/use me as a doormat. People sometimes seem to figure out that I am huge on forgiveness and perhaps, manipulate me or take advantage. They mistake my grace for weakness.

So lately I am faced with the conundrum of where do I draw the line?
Someone once told me that you can forgive someone, but not allow them back into your life to damage you once again. But this is not a picture of true forgiveness.
I have a few people in mind as I write this.

In one case, I am happier with them completely displaced from my life. I have experienced a lifetime of ridiculousness and want to just cut all ties. But the Bible tells me I have to forgive. I am haunted by the fact that Jesus has forgiven me for giving up on Him like 9 million times and where would I be without that? Damned, literally. SO I should go on ahead and work through this,but I dont want to and I feel it is detrimental to my mental health to be in contact with this person. So what do you do?

In the other case, I want this person to be near me all the time, but they keep doing things that make me hurt.They are messed up, in need of grace, just like me. I feel my grace tank is running on empty lately though. But Jesus's is never on empty and that is who I ultimately want to emulate.

When I die and come face to face with God, how will I answer for myself and my unwillingness to forgive? What if God chooses to punish me for those choices to banish people from me to save myself some pain? What if God chose to banish me to save himself the hurt I cause with my sin? And further more, dissension in His kingdom hurts the Lord. How can I say that I am a kingdom builder when I am not repairing relationships in my own life? It doesnt seem possible though.

When do you give up this fight?

someone answer me.


Steve Trevino said...

It seems for me that when I give up the fight is when I experience true victory. Emulating the King is hard work. WWJD makes good marketing but lousy theology. 'I' cannot but You can, will you Lord? Through me, once again?

Andrea said...

FORGIVENESS...what an incredibly difficult and complex thing. I read this post yesterday, and have been mulling it over. Here's a few things I've been thinking (although, they could change... :)
Jesus was God. He came to earth to fulfill a purpose, which brought absolute, ultimate glory to Himself. Yet, Jesus had enemies. Lots of them. People who tried to trick Him, discount Him, ridicule Him, and ultimately killed Him. These people were "hindering" His purpose. And as a result, oftentimes, it is recorded that He withdrew from these people. He moved on to another town,where people were ready to hear the Truth. Did He still love those who hated Him? Absolutely. Did He still love those who conspired against Him? Of course. But He didn't waste His time.
I looked up the definitions for 2 words in the dictionary:
FORGIVE: grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.

1. to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one's life for the better; be penitent.

I think what I hear you say is that you're quick to forgive, whether a person is repentant or not. (Forgiveness can be FORGIVE someone for hurting your whether they ask or not.)

But biblical forgiveness doesn't come "free". God doesn't FORGIVE us just because. Forgiveness, in the Bible, is always tied to Repentance. We must not only recognize our fault, inadequacy, etc...but must desire to be changed. That is when Christ's forgiveness washes over us, enabling us to change.
Even in your 70 x 7 reference (Matthew 18), the master states, "I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me!" In other words, the servant realized need for "forgiveness", and fell on his face and begged for it.
Our purpose, like Jesus', is to bring ultimate glory to God. Are we really doing that if we're handing out "cheap" forgiveness, allowing people to reap the benefit, but not really challenging them to change?
I don't know...I'm still contemplating this myself, but it's a few thoughts...sorry it's so long :)