I thought I knew the meaning of forgive until I took a closer look at it. I was sure it would say this; use the words “I forgive you”, be sincere, don’t carry an offense and then move on. You are not obligated to pick up the relationship immediately because new boundaries need to settle in for everyone’s health. Don’t carry anything negative forward, and never speak ill of the person who you had an offense with. There you have it, clean, tidy easy to wrap your head around.
But then….I took another look and what I found turned me upside down in my thinking! I looked up forgive in the dictionary of etymology and this is what I found:
Forgive: Old English forgiefan “give, grant, allow; forgive,” also “to give up”
The modern sense of “to give up desire or power to punish” is from use of the compound as a Germanic loan-translation of Latin perdonare , see pardon; Pardon: “passing over an offense without punishment”
Wow, I have been hit right between the eyes with this definition. To be truthful I have operated with a definition of ‘forgive’ that looks more like this; let it go, show grace, turn the other cheek, yeah we are ok. But this definition of ‘giving up the desire to punish’….that takes my breath. Even more it says ‘giving up the power to punish.’ It isn’t forgiveness if I still have the desire or power to punish you, what does that mean? It means if I have still have you on a time out, then I am punishing you. If I still desire to avoid you at all cost, then I am punishing both of us. If I have the power to influence others to not show you favor, I am in the wrong. Anyone else feeling as if they are getting hit hard over the head and heart on this one?
Before you jump too far on this, let me say that I know not all relationships are to be restored, but to the best of our ability they are to be reconciled. Either directly with that person, but if not possible then through the path of reconciliation we have through Christ. Why is this reconciliation so important? If we don’t allow it to be reconciled in our spirit it will become a bitter seed with roots that will take hold of the very things we value the most. It won’t be evident right away, but over time it will creep up in our thoughts, conversations and behavior. Yes, it is for our benefit that we really understand what it means to forgive and how to really walk in it.
It is hard not to be totally humbled when you read from today’s scripture as it closes with this, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Really levels the ground doesn’t it? How did the Lord forgive me? Completely, without hesitancy, without me needing to defend myself or having to explain my position, He forgives it all. I am asking today for God to give each of us new seeds of forgiveness to plant into the lives around us; without explanation, no holding someone out at an arms length, just forgive because He forgives you, and He forgives me.
Today’s worksheet, If you haven’t done the downloads yet with this study, please do it today, you don’t want to miss it: handout 9_24_2013
In the Word with You,