“Forgiveness beats pulling the trigger. The life you save is your own” #gundown
When conflict happens the first thing we tend to do is kick our chair back, fortify (gather allies), and leave the room of that relationship. That needs to change immediately.
It’s just so easy to so build up our side of the story to where it’s the “ONLY” side when in reality there are three sides: yours, mine, and the REAL story.
The different approaches to the same problem or conflict are not because the other party is just being a jerk, though that’s always possible, it’s because every personality/background/human comes at life from different angles. When I was younger I assumed that if you had the information I did, you would naturally agree with me!
I lived a disappointing existence, as you can imagine.
My life consisted of trying to convince people who seemed so much dumber than I was of their error. I’m happier now and less frustrated because most of the time I see the beauty of different lenses to see the world through. A blending (conflict) around the team table of ideas and approaches is a wonderful thing when the Hybrid emerges that we all buy into which is actually far better than anything one person (even the smartest person) could have come up with.
I’m an idea guy and also the starter and the finisher. I love the adrenaline of a startup/turnaround but my dad taught me to finish so I’m also insane about that too, it’s the middle part where I need the most help. I’m quite logical and capable but that only goes so far. In church world I have the challenge of motivating everyone with their individual personality/outlook to a common vision. I feel sometimes like my main job is to attempt to influence people who disagree with me.
I believe what I believe so strongly but have to figure out a way to influence the people I love with it, sometimes people I haven’t even met yet. It’s a difficult task in today’s world because conflict is at its core and we are not well equipped to deal with conflict. I laugh sometimes and tell people I’ve never had a comfortable day in my life and am insanely jealous of those who are actually ok with where things are at personally. I’m never ok with where I’m at because of this inner drive to do better, which is very difficult when you are aware of your own ridiculous faults…
Conflict is easier to deal with if you are that type of a person or have a great self esteem; you tend to pick up less offence and resentment when people hurt you. But those of us who don’t have those advantages, though much talented in other areas, need to work at the conflict part. Some people bleed when they get cut, I live with some of them.
When we decide we’ve been insulted across the table we often pick up offence to defend ourselves with. Our working understanding of Offence is “Resentment due to a perceived insult”. I’m suggesting today that to keep our relationships together we are going to have to decide to put down the gun and pick up a weapon that is far more effective because it goes on the offensive. I know I’m using tricky phrases here but I’m trying to drive this deeper so when the shock comes it already hurt, if you know what I mean:)
We have to choose to forgive.
If taking offence is a choice, forgiving someone is also a choice.
“But they don’t deserve it!” Yeah duh…. When I hurt you I don’t deserve your forgiveness, that’s kind of the point and we find ourselves ill prepared in our North American approach to it. We cry “Justice!” but it’s not justice we really want when we take offence.
Jesus tells a parable to Peter in Matthew 18 that cuts through our baggage, excuses, background or anything else that keeps us from living the way we should. He tells us how we all tend to deal with this touchy subject.
A king forgives his servant a debt that can only be described by a child who doesn’t understand money as “A million billion dollars!” The actual words used were 10,000 Talents. A talent was roughly 75 pounds of a precious metal. Though thought differs, it is a HUGE sum of money. From my meagre calculations 20 years of work was worth around 1 Talent. This knucklehead owed ten thousand times twenty years of his own life. He begs for mercy while promising to pay back this sum, but this kind king pities this poor fool and forgives the debt.
Guess what the forgiven servant does next? He goes out and finds a guy who owes him the equivalent to four months wages, grabs him by the throat (because that’s normal!) and demands immediate payment. This guy begs for mercy and promises payment (which he can actually accomplish) but the forgiven servant has him thrown into prison….. the only place he can’t earn wages to pay back his debt. (Kindly recall the thought that when we take offence we play dirty and don’t want payment, we actually want the other party to keep paying and never be free).
Ever watch a bitter old person still speak with venom about her dad who’s been dead for thirty years? It’s like pulling the trigger on a corpse! Actually unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. Ouch! True, but ouch all the same!
The king calls the wicked servant on the carpet, gives him the tongue lashing he so richly deserves and throws him into prison in an ironic turn of events. “But how could a loving God….?” You’ll recall the loving king forgave the servant who promptly decided he would rather throw someone in jail and be thrown in jail himself? Anger at the king would be like getting angry at a police officer for arresting a thief. WE decide whether we go to jail or not. Sorry.
This is the story of the human condition. No matter what my wife forgives me of I can still lose my mind when she leaves one piece of paper on my man cave counter!!! Our memories and thought processes are so self centred and destructive that I wonder how anyone could actually live with us? To be told we are far from God because of this one thing is only a shock to the proud; anybody who’s been truly broken and takes it upon himself to remain that way rarely wants to go out, grab someone by the throat, and generally act like an ungrateful idiot.
God intervenes, saves mankind from the mess we were in by the only currency great enough to pay our actual debt, the blood of the Son of the Creator of all, and we go out and demand payment for the sins of our fellow people?
So how do we shoot the issue and not the messenger?
When relationships break because of conflict for any reason, we actually have to fix the bridge between us. Pretending it is ok when you haven’t actually talked about it (which is really scary and messy) just means you’re putting off the major catastrophe until later. If there’s an issue or problem, you need to figure out a way to shoot it without shooting the messenger.
Payment for the debt is needed or the relationship can’t go on.
When I forgive you I’m saying I will pay your debt to me. I’m not saying you were right and I’m not saying you could ever pay me for what you’ve done, I’m releasing you from all of that and you don’t owe me any more.
Peter, trying to be spiritual, asks Jesus if he should forgive someone “up to seven times?”. Jesus’ response is typically painful for poor Peter (and poor me) “up to seventy times seven”.
Forgive and release. When you lose track of how many times… start over. This is the heart of Jesus. Our sins washed as white as snow, as if they had never happened? This is counter-Corey-culture baby! That’s why it’s so powerful, because I know and you know that we can’t actually do it! We are all able to handle a certain amount of emotional pain and forgiveness, but if the hurt done to us increases any more we have this feeling we’re going to run out of love.
I can’t actually do it and neither can you.
Only by tapping into the King’s resources is this possible. I can’t forgive out of a bankrupt account, which is the essence of my human condition. That’s the beauty and the power of the Gospel of Jesus!
I forgive not because I am able to forgive you, I forgive because HE is able to.
The formula for accessing the forgiveness of God I so desperately need every morning is like walking up to an automated back machine and drawing on funds for the day that I will simply never deserve or be able to earn.
The Code to His bank account? beep beep beep. F-A-T-H-E-R -I- F-O-R-G-I-V-E __________(my dad, my wife, my friend, my student..). Transaction complete. Enjoy your day!
Myth: You don’t have to forgive someone who isn’t sorry.
All I can say is I hope that’s not true….
“While we were still sinners Christ died for us”