Forgiveness is a biblical concept. We all know we are supposed to do it. Forgive our brother and move forward. But what does that look like practically? In Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement so sharp that they parted ways. They did reconcile later, but were things ever the same? In Matthew 18, Peter asked Jesus how many times we are to forgive, He answered seventy times seven.
Now, I hear that. I do my best to live it. But it is hard. When someone does or says something hurtful, depending on the severity of the offense, it takes time to heal. How am I supposed to live alongside someone who has hurt me? What does interacting, worshiping, and communicating with this person look like while I am still working through my pain?
There was a time when I was not clear on where my responsibilities ended, and the Lord’s began. I would hear things like “work like it depends on you and pray like it depends on God.” Thing is, this saying does not take God’s will into consideration. If it isn’t God’s will for you, it doesn’t matter how hard you pray, it won’t happen. I used to attend one of those churches that treated God like a genie. Let them tell it, they were claiming His promises! But there is a difference between claiming His promises and inserting one’s selfish desires into the text. How can you tell the difference? How do you know when someone is speaking Christianese? For those unfamiliar with the term Christianese. This is the language of the gospel. There are people who speak the language but do not belong to the body. They “amen,” “mhmm”, and shout in all the right places. They attend church, serve, and some of them lead, but do not be fooled, they are unbelievers. Recall the parable of the Tares and the Wheat in Matthew chapter 13.