I’m swimming upstream today so I’ll hurry before I lose my gumption. Here goes: Lewis B. Smedes said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” This philosophy is highly promoted these days on placards, from the pulpit, by the counselors, about everywhere. Sounds so good.
But I’m thinking we should forgive because Jesus said to do so. Bible says, “…forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Eph. 4:32). Did Jesus forgive me to set HIMSELF free? No, he forgave me to set ME free! Smedes quote puts the cart before the horse.
The freedom of the forgiver is a result; it should not be the motivation. Sort of like a financial adviser telling you to pay your tithes so God will give back to you. Wrong motivation! Do it because God said to. Pay your tithes – achieve financial security; forgive – be set free. Again, those are results, not proper motivation.
When we love enough to forgive because Jesus forgave us just because he loved us, maybe the Holy Spirit will make forgiveness an easier thing to do. Don’t be manipulated by human rewards – whether from placards, pulpit, or psychologists! I had to apologize to a friend because of my snit in response to an issue. I hope she forgives me because she loves me. If she does we will both be free.
I understand that some things are much more egregious than a snit! Hard things – murder, rape, betrayal. The following teaching helped me through a very bad time. When Jesus said to forgive seventy times seven times, he might have been saying to forgive THE SAME INCIDENT 490 times. That is so true. Some things you have to just say “I forgive __ regarding that.” Next time it comes to mind, say the same thing. Next time, the same. Few if any incidents can you willingly speak forgiveness 490 times and have it still hound you! Personally, I believe the Holy Spirit will help you long before 49 times let alone 490!