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Sometimes you just need to forgive.

In the past couple of articles in this series we have been talking about the role of active conflict resolution.  Meaning the need to have a face to face interaction about the issue of contention.  We discovered that whether you are the one at fault, the Scripture commands you to take initiative to resolve the conflict.

But, what about the times when the issues are petty.  Must you always have a sit-down confrontation?  Do I need to make a mountain out of every molehill?

One of my favorite discoveries in this conversation was the difference between principle and preference.  It seems that just because someone else has a different opinion than me—that does not make it wrong.  Your preference is not necessarily a sinful affront of the truth for me.  Everyone knows that you should squeeze toothpaste from the bottom versus the middle, but that does not mean the middle-squeezers are sinners.  Frustrating, yes.  Sinful, no.  Sometimes you just got to give somebody grace.  And their own tube of toothpaste.

Principle is tied to right and wrong.  It is black or white.  Unfortunately, there are many areas of life that are firmly in the land of gray (grey).  I find it amusing that even the spelling of the color can be “gray” or “grey”.  This is the magical terrain of preference.

In the world of principle, we must discern that which is firmly rooted in truth and what is purely preference.  The easiest way to do that is to use a motionless standard of truth.  The only one of those that I know about is the Bible.  Even the constitution of a country is amendable depending upon the wave of new inclination that the modern culture deems to be superior to old thinking patterns and the old monuments must fall.  But God’s Word does not waver, nor does it change.  Peter in his first book says it this way

22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, 23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For, “All flesh is like grass, And all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, And the flower falls off, 25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word which was preached to you.

It is critical to be able to discern between what is sin and what is just my preference.  Confront sin.  Negotiate preference.  And by the way, give the other guy some grace if you just have a difference of opinion.  Let them win sometime.  Give in.  Compromise.  Figure out a win-win solution.  Maybe let them squeeze when the tube is full.  And then bottom squeeze at the end. Everybody wins.  And let us be honest everybody loves a good middle squeeze when the tube is full.

But what about the times when you cannot confront sin?  Or you cannot get resolution? Or the issue is not a trend but rather a one-off with extenuating circumstances.

Sometimes you just need to forgive.

Sometime when you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone.  That is what Jesus says in Mark 11

22 And Jesus *answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. 23 “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. 24 “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. 25 “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.

Let us make some observations about this passage.

  • Jesus is responding to the disciples about the withered fig tree that He cursed previously
  • Jesus tells them to have faith in God vs 22
  • Jesus says prayers of faith directed toward God without doubt moves mountains vs 23
  • Jesus says that we can have confidence in God answering our prayers in faith vs 24
  • In this context Jesus talks about forgiveness vs 25
  • He reiterates that the forgiveness of our sins is somehow connected to our forgiveness of others vs 25.  See a previous article about this God Forgives Like You Do

The interpretative question about this passage is why Jesus includes forgiveness in with the moving of mountains. And the answer is simple.  Some forgiveness feels like a mountain and needs more than a simple apology.  Things like

Forgiving an abusive parent

Forgiving an unfaithful spouse

Forgiving the betrayal of a close friend

Forgiving the unfairness of an unfriendly workplace

Forgiving the injustice of racism or prejudice

Forgiving a misconception of your character

Even Forgiving God for not intervening in a difficult situation.

These things are so egregious that they feel like a mountain.  And this is especially difficult when it seems or is impossible to get the issue settled.  This is true of situations where the offending party has died.  Or the solution of the back issue is so disruptive that it is not worth the fallout.  Sometimes you just need to forgive.

When the apology is not coming or will never be adequate, sometimes you just need to forgive.

1 Peter 4: 8- Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

Sometimes you just need to forgive.

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