Jonathan's Perspective  

Jul 24

'Practicing Forgiveness'

My daughter is learning how to play the guitar.  Like any instrument, it takes time to become proficient so that you can really enjoy the music.  However, it takes a lot more than just time.  It takes practice - and lots of it.  The best way to learn an instrument is to practice daily.  When I was learning the guitar, I thought that it was enough to cram all my practice into an hour and a half right before my lesson.  If you listened to me 'play' you would agree that my method was not very effective.  There is something about the small, consistent effort put in over a long period of time that builds momentum.  The same is true with forgiveness.  Becoming good at it takes repetition.  You reap the benefits when you practice daily.

Jesus told his disciples (and us) to practice forgiveness.  "Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive them." (Luke 17:4)  There are a couple things to notice about what Jesus said.  First, forgiveness needs to be practiced daily.  In fact, we need to practice it seven times each day if not more.  When Mary Kay and I were first married, we played a game that went like this.  If one of us thought one thing, and the other thought something else, when we found out the truth we would say, 'You were right, and I was wrong.'  Saying this in a humorous manor in light times made it easier to say it in difficult times.  Practicing forgiveness regularly strengthens your humility to forgive in tough times.

Second, Jesus says that we 'must' do this.  It is not an option for those who follow Jesus.  It is a requirement.  On the way back from vacation in North Carolina, I saw a billboard that read: Real Christians Forgive Like Jesus!  At first I panicked and started a quick inventory of my pattern of forgiving - or not forgiving.  Then I thought of it in a different light.  Perhaps it was a simple affirmation that those who follow Jesus do forgive because they have been transformed.  As sons and daughters of the King and brothers and sisters of Jesus this is what we do.  It is a deep part of our new creation, our new identity. 

A Vatican legate once said, "Grace is the currency of all good relationships.'  That grace which greases the wheels of love and creates an atmosphere of peace begins with forgiveness.  Practice forgiveness this week.  Think of one person that has hurt you, and determine to bring the grace of forgiveness into that relationship.  The more you practice forgiveness, the more you will experience life that is truly life.

Seeking Life that is Truly Life,

Jonathan

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