"And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses." - Mark 11:25
Raise your hand if you've ever been hurt by someone you love.
If your hand isn't raised, you're either in heaven already or you're a liar. We've all been hurt by the ones who we love the most, or who love us the most. We are all sinners, desperately in need of God's grace.
For many, the wound inflicted by a loved one often feels deeper than the chance offense of a stranger or an unfriendly acquaintance. Maybe it was your spouse. Maybe it was your closest coworker. Maybe it was your best friend. "How could he/she say such a thing?!" or "I can't believe he/she would stoop so low!"
Whether or not we'd like to admit it, we all hold a certain amount of higher expectations over the heads of those we love--especially if they, too, follow Jesus. "They know better, right? We're supposed to love each other, aren't we? I mean, maybe Joe Schmo down the street might say something like that, but her/him? Certainly not! This is unacceptable!"
Perhaps those who are more spiritually disciplined might even cry out to God in prayer at the outrage of the offense. "Dear God, please teach him/her how incredibly wrong he/she was in doing this terrible thing to me." Right. I'm guilty of this hypocritical prayer, unfortunately.
When you get hurt, Jesus (whom we claim to follow and submit to with our whole selves) offers only one option:
In all four Gospel accounts, Jesus talks about the concept of forgiveness a lot. As His followers we are called to forgive our spouses, our siblings, our friends, our coworkers, our neighbors, our acquaintances, strangers, and even our enemies. We are called to forgive not just the first time, but "seven times seventy times." We are called to settle conflict before we go to worship, and before the sun goes down at the end of a day.
The scariest part: in order to receive forgiveness, we absolutely must offer forgiveness. I think it's safe to say that we are each big fans of receiving forgiveness from our Heavenly Father above. The scriptures are clear. It's time to forgive.
As a sinful man who has not only been on the receiving end, but also on the giving end of deep hurts, I am the first to admit that forgiveness is incredibly difficult. When someone I love, who I know loves me, and furthermore who I know loves Jesus, wounds me, my mind races to every self-righteous defense in the book. Suddenly, I become the most holy person in the room merely by being the victim. It's preposterous, when you really think about it!
The truth is no one person is holier than another, whether you offend or you are offended. We are each the recipients of immense grace and immeasurable forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus submitted to death on a cross for our sake, and He promises to continue to offer us grace in abundance. The least we can do is to drop our outrageous expectations and extend this grace to the ones we love the most.
Instead of fighting, let's remember the "log/plank" we each carry in our own eye from time to time. Let's remember that we're all in the same boat, and we're all big fans of receiving forgiveness. Let's remember that the fight is not worth it. Let's remember what it cost God to forgive us of our sins.
When you get hurt, pray...and forgive.
-written by Chase Cotten, Media Director at IDES