Today, seeing unforgiveness as a start into darkness.
“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 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.”
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” Luke 17:3-5 (NIV)
I just finished reading a book called Recovering from Losses in Life by H. Norman Wright. About giving up anger and resentment, he includes a comment a client made: “Each day I wrote the phrase ‘I forgive you for …’ and then put down the first reason I could think of for not forgiving … Then I thanked [the Lord] for what He was doing, even if I didn’t feel like it. I discovered many things through this: I was full of bitterness. It kept me pinned down and stuck. I didn’t want to forgive. They didn’t deserve it.” (Recovering from Losses in Life, H. Norman Wright, chapter 10, pg 185.)
Sometimes, “I repent” is never uttered. Sometimes wounding continues intentionally. And sometimes forgiveness is not feeling, but action. I am learning this daily, and often it’s not easy. Sometimes I feel like a big fake, putting on smiles and kindness when inside I groan and grieve. A persistent weight that does pin and stick, unforgiveness. But where does it lead? Bitterness? Hatred?
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them. 1 John 2:9-11 (NIV)
My study notes read: In the Bible hatred and love as moral qualities are not primarily emotions, but attitudes expressed in actions.
Lord, I don’t want to be blinded by darkness. I’m not sure I can trust my feelings, but you are trustworthy. When you tell me forgive, I want to. Even if it means writing it out on a piece of paper every day, or smiling and acting despite the difficulty. It would be a lot easier if I felt like it in the face of circumstance, but I pray that I will act first–in forgiveness, in love–in hopes my heart will soften enough to feel later. Thank you for forgiving me! And thank you for showing me the very real danger of unforgiveness.