looking beyond

Whenever I think about forgiveness I think about grace. The two just seem to go hand in hand.

So after talking a little about forgiveness I’ve been thinking about grace.

Grace is hard, I think we all know that. We are taught that we must get justice. People need to get what they deserve.

But that’s not what we’re called to.

So why do we act that way, aside from the obvious?

I was chatting with my home church on Tuesday and we talked about an idea that I think is worth some pondering. We tend to look at the sin, or the fault, and not the person.

So perhaps then the issue is the way we look at sin then.

We look at sin the same way we look at crime. While it may all be crime, some is worse. We rate it.

Yes lying is bad but murder is worse.

But what if sin was binary? A yes or a no. Would grace be easier?

Consider two people for me. They are in every way the same. They are literally perfect. Blameless in every way they could be but for one.

Person one is a compulsive liar. He lies all the time about everything.

Person two is murderer. It was a bad choice he made years ago but still a murderer.

Which will it be easier to show grace to? Be honest it’s person one because while we know both are bad we rate murder as worse. We don’t see the person or God in person two. We have trouble looking past the sin to see the exact same person behind it.  A person made in God’s image, needing love and grace and forgiveness.

I could make the argument person one is worse because they keep doing it. They keep sinning where person two sinned once.

When we live a life of compassion we called to see what God sees, and God see us beyond our sin.

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to late

Sometimes we miss things.

A moment, a chance, an opportunity. Once they’re gone they’re gone.

And sometimes they aren’t.

Sometimes a moment is there, over and over and over and we just won’t take it.

Like the old saying, better late than never, sometimes a chance is just waiting for us to finally take that step. I think this can play out in a whole bunch of ways but today I want to talk about forgiveness.

Have you ever been scarred? Not just hurt but deeply and in a sense fundamentally wounded?

I’m not talking about the time I had terrible service and then refused to go back to a local restaurant for years. I was frustrated and upset by how my friends and I were treated. But that’s something different.

I’m talking about something that touches you in the deepest most inner parts of who you are. The kind of scarring that rattles you loose of your grounding and causes you to start to question life. This is about betrayal.

Is that ever a hard place to forgive. Bitterness is just so much easier.

And maybe for you it’s never been that deep. Maybe for you it is something far less dramatic. But did you forgive?

Perhaps more interesting, did you do anything to help the other person forgive when it was you who caused the scar?

I’m reminded of a very specific instance in my life. I was scarred and wounded on such a deep level not only did I not want to forgive I knew I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I had known these folks for YEARS.

But things were said and action taken that I swore I would never let go. I could not and I would not forgive. They had made their choices and so this was the outcome. And God worked on my heart to soften it.

So I tried to forgive.

And much like I thought, I couldn’t. I wanted to let it all go but every time the topic came up my pulse quickened, I got harsh and difficult, and I relived that pain over and over.

But I kept trying.

More than a year passed and I was approached.

“I’m sorry Phil.”

And I was released.

We don’t know all the people we’ve hurt and all the scars we’ve caused, but we do know some. Sometimes what people really need is to know that you are honestly and truly sorry. Help give them the tools and the space to be gracious and forgiving, even if it’s too late.

they don’t deserve it

At 6:45 this morning I was driving in to Cambridge where I work thinking two things.

I HATE the morning.

I don’t have enough coffee.

If you know me you know I need a very specific level of caffination to function properly. It also needs to not be 6:45 am.

It’s become an ongoing joke now for a committee I sit on. At the start of the meeting half as a joke and half as a request to know if I’m going to be productive yet they ask “how’s your caffeine level?”

If you didn’t know me and meet me at 9am you’d probably think I’m kind of distance, disinterested and perhaps a little cold. The reality, I hope, is that I’m not those things but in the morning I need a long while to get going. I need some coffee and I need some time.

The people I work with are so gracious. They know I may not seem super engaged or be offering a lot of helpful insight to start but that it’s coming.  They offer a lot of grace.

And most of us are good at being gracious with people we know and especially people we like. It’s easy to be gracious when they ‘deserve’ it.

But we’re trying for more.

And it is sooooo frustrating.

Who honestly wants to give up their right to be upset or just be right?

Who doesn’t like it when people owe them?

Who choose to not make people see all they did wrong and get what they deserve?

Who honestly shows grace to that person who yelled/ cut us off in traffic/ should know better/ is an adult/ went to school for this/ choose this as a job/ or whatever else that means they truly don’t deserve grace?

We try to.

Every day, in ever relationship.

Good luck, I know I need it.