Do you remember doing this? If you’re a girl, you probably do. I don’t know of a single guy to ever do this, but I am sure someone did! If you recall, pull each petal and chant either “He loves me” or “He loves me not” like some New Orleans French Quarter Fortune Teller. The fate of the relationship rested on the last petal. Does he love me or not? I have often wanted to do this with forgiveness. I have wanted to go pick a daisy and begin pulling its petals out saying either “Forgive them” or “Forgive them …. NOT!” (That was so an 80’s reference!) This concept of forgiveness has received a bad wrap over the years. We have such quirky thoughts when it comes to forgiveness that we have become paralyzed with fear that if we forgive we have somehow publicly condoned whatever it was the person did to us.
I wonder if Peter had a daisy in his hand when he asked Jesus this? I bet he did!
There is something inside of us that screams “Injustice!” when it comes to forgiveness. Our anger, bitterness, and hurt cannot fathom forgiveness as an option. Yet, Jesus tells us to put down our daisies and listen to this story.
What do we do about forgiveness? Let’s begin with what forgiveness is not:
1. Forgiveness is not saying the action was acceptable. Often we believe that forgiveness means we are condoning an action or behavior. Forgiveness does not mean we accept something wrong as right.
2. Forgiveness does not erase all the pain. Our pain is so deep at times that forgiveness seems unattainable. How is forgiveness going to help me? Forgiveness is not to be misunderstood as forgetfulness. While forgiveness begins a healing process, it does not erase immediately.
3. Forgiveness is not removing guilt. If someone has harmed you, they are guilty of that wrong. To forgive does not remove them of the guilt or potential consequences of their behavior.
Now let’s look at what forgiveness really is:
1. Forgiveness is a choice. It is not an emotion. It is not a feeling. Forgiveness is a choice of our mind and will.
2. Forgiveness is a response to what Jesus has done for us.
3. Forgiveness is being more concerned with the future than the past. Forgiveness releases you from being controlled by an event or person. As long as you harbor ill-will or anger it only hurts you. How does holding on to that emotion hurt the person? They go on living. You go on dying. Forgiveness releases the grip of death and allows you to be free to live.
I forgive not because it is easy. I forgive because I have been forgiven. God forgave me of my sin at the cross of Jesus. I was released of my guilt at the moment of my faith. I have been set free. How incredulous would it be of me to hoard forgiveness? That which cost God so much to give me must be paid forward to those who have harmed me. Forgiveness is hard. It is exhausting. It is releasing. Forgiveness is holy.
I forgive because I was forgiven first. I love because I was loved first.