Forgiveness is one of the big issues in every relationship. I say “big issues” because every relationship, whether in the home, at the office or at school has bumps and bruises caused by people. Words misunderstood or actions misinterpreted. It’s part of the fabric of mankind. It affects all of us. It is an “equal-opportunity” issue regardless of age, social status or geography. We’re all imperfect people. There is only one person who was and is perfect, Jesus Christ.
That being said, this may not be new information for you. You not only know this, but you also live in the midst of a broken and bruised world and you’ve been bruised personally. So here’s the question. Knowing what we know, why do we continue to struggle with the ONE THING that has the potential to heal the bruises of broken relationships: forgiveness?
Here’s my one sentence answer. Forgiveness, like grace, is inherently unfair. It is unfair to extend forgiveness to someone who is obviously in the wrong. It is unfair to erase somebody’s deliberate mistake, intentional behavior that hurts someone…someone like you or me. And then, add to this “unfairness issue” the fact that there are intensity levels of offense. You and I might be more likely to forgive someone’s “minor” offense, but not something big…not something potentially life-changing.
Take a look at this: Luke 23:42-43 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[ Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus forgave a criminal on the cross who changed his heart toward God. This is huge…here’s why. What many don’t know is that people who were crucified in Jesus’ day, were not put on a cross 12 feet off the ground. Ordinarily, they were crucified at “eye level.” The reason was so the offended victims could “get in the face” of those that hurt them. When Jesus said, “You’re going to paradise with me,”the criminal’s victims heard him. They must have thought, that’s unfair. Bernard Meltzer, an American entertainer said, “When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.”He was right. When you extend forgiveness, even when it is undeserved, unfair, it can change your future.