Christianity 201

May 7, 2012

Get Over It!

They were putting together a list of people to invite to a dinner party.  She threw out the name of a particular couple and he frowned at her.

“Not after that thing that happened at the golf course.  We’re not having them here.”

“The golf course;” she screamed, “That was TEN YEARS AGO! That happened a DECADE ago! Is that why we never get together with them? Don’t you think it’s time to get over it?”

Unfortunately, we don’t all do a good job of getting over it.  This post is from Mark D. Roberts, and appeared today at High Calling Blogs as How Can We Stop Nursing an Ancient Grudge?

Because you nursed an ancient grudge, you handed the Israelites over to the sword in the time of their distress, during their final punishment.

Ezekiel 35 is a word of judgment against “Mt. Seir,” a geographic representation of Edom. In this chapter, the Lord judges the Edomites because they took advantage of the Israelites when they were being invaded by the Babylonians. The people of Edom even “exalted” themselves against the Lord and spoke against him (35:13).

Edom’s reaction to Israel’s plight reflected longstanding enmity between the two nations. In fact, the Lord identifies the source of Edom’s action in this way: “Because you nursed an ancient grudge, you handed the Israelites over to the sword in the time of their distress, during their final punishment” (35:5). The Hebrew of the beginning of this verse reads literally, “Because you had everlasting hatred [’evat ‘olam] . . . .” This is the same phrase that appears in Ezekiel 25:15, where it refers to the “old hatreds” of the Philistines. The “ancient grudge” of the Edomites was similar to the “old hatreds” of the Philistines. Both peoples let old rivalries and animosity govern their behavior, leading them to oppose not just Israel, but also the Lord.

The Daily Reflection on Ezekiel 25 asked the question: What will set us free from old hatreds? Today, I want to ask a similar question: How can we stop nursing an ancient grudge? Once again, I want to emphasize that the power to do this rests in God, the source of peace and reconciliation. God alone will help us forgive those who have wronged us.

This happens as we take to heart the merciful forgiveness God has given us. In Ephesians 4:31-32 we read: “Put aside all bitterness, losing your temper, anger, shouting, and slander, along with every other evil. Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ.” We are able to put aside all bitterness and forgive others when we take seriously the way God has forgiven us in Christ. We will stop nursing grudges when we allow our hearts and minds to be transformed by the forgiving grace of God.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you have any ancient grudges? Are there people in your life whom you struggle to forgive? Have you spoken to God about this?

PRAYER: Gracious God, even as you have forgiven me, so may I forgive others. May your grace so permeate my being that I cannot help but be gracious to everyone in my life, even those who have wronged me. Set me free, Lord, from old hatreds and ancient grudges. May I live in the freedom of your grace each day, in each relationship, in every situation. Amen.

~Mark D. Roberts

September 14, 2011

Corporate or Collective Forgiveness

Blogger and pastor Kevin Rogers has been spending several days [here and here] looking at the subject of forgiveness.  This one appeared recently under the title We Forgive You.

Pastor and author Stephen Crosby said, A mature Christian has capacity to absorb the offenses and weaknesses of others, not just demand they perform up to the code of ideals.’  [i]

When we are offended, isn’t it often our inclination to point out how the other has failed to keep the code? Our maturity lies not in being preachers of the ideal, but in acting graciously. Mature people have the capacity to forgive all manners of injustice directed towards them.

Henry Ward Beecher said, ‘Keep a fair-sized cemetery in your back yard, in which to bury the faults of your friends.’ [ii]

Implicit in our asking for God’s forgiveness, is the recognition that we intend to practice forgiveness toward others.

“Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”

In one breath we ask God to forgive us. In the next breath we state our practice of forgiving others. The two thoughts are joined as if one does not exist without the other.

Is the Father reluctant to forgive us until we act that way toward others?  There are several accounts of Jesus stating this connection.

After teaching the prayer Jesus said,

Matthew 6:

14 “Forgive people when they sin against you. If you do, your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive people their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.


But, this is not a case of God saying ‘You go first’. This is the Father who waits ready to forgive and absorbs offense before it is acknowledged. He acts out forgiveness and initiates the first step toward us—always. He shows up to deal with offense before we are ready to face the problem.

It is likely that we cannot comprehend forgiving others until we first experience forgiveness ourselves. Forgiveness is a learned behavior.

Lewis B. Smedes said, ‘When we forgive evil we do not excuse it, we do not tolerate it, we do not smother it. We look the evil full in the face, call it what it is, let its horror shock and stun and enrage us, and only then do we forgive it.’ [iii]

As powerful as it is for you to forgive one person, there is added strength in a group of people forgiving an offender. For us to say ‘we forgive you’ opens the door to a community that works as a team. Being restored to one can mean restoration to all.