Over 20 years ago, I went through a program at my church that taught a systematic way to tell people about God. We learned how to share in a way that was personal and included illustrations and specific verses from scripture.
One of the illustrations that made a tremendous impact on me was this one:
If I offered you a gift, you would have to
acknowledge the gift’s presence,
reach out your open hands,
transfer that package from the giver to yourself
and then unwrap it and accept it as yours
in order to truly receive it as a gift.
Isn’t that beautiful?
Had you ever thought of receiving a gift
in such an intricate, personal way?
This illustrates the steps we must go through to accept the gift of Christ as our Savior
and with it, His forgiveness.
Recently, a complete stranger who doesn’t know me at all
quoted words from one of my blogposts. He pointed out in conversation
that I had written a story about Joy and forgiveness. He said that I mentioned that some people “do not deserve to be forgiven.”
I was not given a post reference and I couldn’t easily find it through my blog’s search tool. This statement just stabbed at my gut. Had I REALLY said that? It doesn’t SOUND like something that I would say in conversation or writing … at least not in the way and context that it was thrown at me. I believe we should all strive to forgive others when they hurt us, whether they ask for forgiveness or not.
I spent several days mulling over this thought
and began to think more about forgiveness
what it looks like
who deserves it
and when we should offer it.
I came back to the blog … and finally found my words here.
Then it all made sense. That line is straight off the screen.
But, oh how different it looked when it was twisted with an attitude in which it was not written.
Oh, yes! Those words were correct … but the heart of how they were written was misconstrued by the reader.
None of us d.e.s.e.r.v.e.s forgiveness.
I don’t deserve forgiveness for any transgression that I have committed
any more than you deserve forgiveness for any pain that you have unleashed.
We don’t deserve forgiveness for
lying, cheating, murder, stealing or breaking a vow.
Forgiveness is not something we deserve.
Nor can we earn forgiveness.
No. Forgiveness is a gift that we offer to heal relationships.
It is a gift that can take time to package and prepare.
It is a gift that can be very difficult to release into the receiver’s grasp.
And there are times, when the recipient does not even WANT the gift.
By refusing forgiveness, they continue to cry “victim” or claim rejection.
But …. you nor I can FORCE them to accept forgiveness .. and healing.
But, always, in giving the gift of forgiveness
we are the ones who receive the greatest blessing.
None of us “deserve” forgiveness
which is all the more reason that I do my best to offer it quickly
and actively encourage my children
to offer it in spite of themselves
and in spite of the actions of the offender.