Alternative to the Debit Column
Alternative to the Debit Column
There is an alternative to our natural instinct of being debt collectors. Our natural instinct is to place each offense that occurs in our life in the debit column. We naturally want to take the pathway of resentment and retaliation. God calls us to reflect the image of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in every aspect of our lives. He chose to take the pathway of restoration and reconciliation. We must look at this as a command and not an option. When we take a look at Paul’s writings to the Colossians we find that this is not a gray area, we don’t have any wiggle room at all here. Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Jesus Christ himself was equally as clear and direct. Mark 11:25 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.”
Our Lord and Savior did not classify each offense as to how great or how small it was. No offense, the offender makes on us is beyond the boundary to which our forgiveness must extend. If we are going to remain in fellowship with God it requires and depends upon our forgiveness of each and every offense.
We may feel that we are forced to wrestle with the fact that our actions amount to disobedience, when we persist in unforgiveness. Both Paul and Jesus state that we cannot take forgiveness or leave it as an option. We may consider Paul and the other apostles as super Christians that always took the pathway of forgiveness. We must remember that they were human beings just as we are and made mistakes and did not always take the pathway of forgiveness. Remember in Acts 15:36-41 when Paul and Barnabas separated as a result of a disagreement. Because Barnabas had left them on their first missionary journey in Pamphylia and basically was a quitter as Paul labeled him. Much later in his ministry Paul commends Barnabas to the Colossians. Yes it seems unnatural or supernatural at times it may also seem unbelievable to forgive. It may even seem unrelenting in our rage, our anger, our grief, our despair or our revenge, when all of these emotions come as a result of an offense that has been placed in our lives. How do we handle that kind of situation?
The basic answer is we don’t. We must place our hands in God’s hands and allow God to handle the situation. The only way that we are going to be able to live with any peace in our lives is to forgive.
If we fail to forgive it is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. That is a very powerful word picture that is hard for us to overlook. Though it may feel right, though it may seem justified, though it may appear to be the only option available to us, it is destructive and deadly to the one who drinks the poison. The very weapon we used to inflict pain on our offender becomes a sword turned inward on ourselves, doing far more damage to us, and to those who love us, than to those who have hurt us. Nothing, about forgiveness is easy. It’s hard to think about. It’s even harder to do. It’s hard to just keep going. If we could somehow back away from our own situation long enough, where we could see it more clearly, where the wounds and scars don’t hurt us every time we turn a certain way or make a sudden movement, we’d see how effective forgiveness is.
Can you provide a vivid image of this statement: Our failing to forgive is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die?