Some may find this vulgar. Some may refuse to read past the title, assuming vulgarity will follow. What is vulgar isn’t the particular “f” word I have in mind, which is “Forgiveness.” What is vulgar is how sparing we can sometimes be with this most generous of gifts. What is vulgar is that the other, vulgar, “f” word (the word you were hoping would not be here and that I would never put here) passes through lips more often than variations of “forgiveness/I forgive you,” etc.
Want to smooth out relationships? Forgive. Engage. Communicate. And forgive. Don’t just grunt forgiveness in a grudging way or murmur tripe like, “It’s all good.” Say it – “I forgive you.” Show it.
Is this easy? No. Forgiveness isn’t easy. Look at what Christ went through to earn it for us. But forgiveness is free, it is life-giving, it is releasing. It is worth the work and effort necessary for us to be at peace with other human beings.
Forgiveness may even save you money. Visit ten therapists and you may receive ten suggestions for how to deal with a current relationship challenge. All that may be needed to break the dam of bitterness and vengeance and repercussion is…forgiveness.
Simplistic? Seemingly. Powerful? Not unless you try it. Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 15:12) Forgive as I have forgiven you. (paraphrase of Ephesians 4:32) Forgive your brother from the heart.” (Matthew 18:35b)
You know the difference Christ’s forgiveness has made in your life. Imagine the difference forgiveness would make in any strained relationship. Imagine the difference forgiveness would make in our nation if people knew how to do it and actually put this “f” word into relentless, generous practice.
Again, not easy. Do I have to forget what’s been done to me? Can I? What if someone doesn’t want forgiveness or is not sorry for what he’s done? How do I handle these frustrations? I don’t have the answers. Jesus does. Go to him often. Daily. And, at his urging and with his help, use this “f” word often. Forgive as you have been forgiven.
God be with you,
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand