Segunda, 29 de Maio de 2017
   
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The Dangers of Asking Forgiveness

When the believer sins against God, it sometimes involves sin against others too. Thus the Christian who has a sensitive conscience, when realizing his conduct has insulted both God and men, asks for forgiveness not only to the Lord but also to the individual who was injured by his wrong behavior.

This is part of the common Christian experience. Indeed, the believer who has never apologized to his wife, his children, his parents, his fellow believers or his coworkers can only be explained in two ways: he is either a perfect person or someone who nourishes such a pride that blinds him, preventing him from seeing the true duties of a disciple of Jesus. Well, you don’t need to be very smart to figure out which is the most plausible hypothesis.

Asking forgiveness is a reality that makes up the experience of Christ's servants in dealing with people in general. And these servants know how difficult it is having to do this. Asking forgiveness involves self-humiliation, shame, recognizing weaknesses and defects ... Things that make us feel bad and inferior. However, the pain to go through it all is not the only pain that the humble believer is likely to face when willing to set things right with those whom he offended. There are at least two more "dangers".

The first one is having rejected his beg for forgiveness. This often happens both when apologizing to believers as when apologizing to unbelievers. When the believer denies forgiveness, the shock is greater, for no servant of Jesus has that right. Forgiving is an order that comes from God and that it is emphatically directed to his children (Ephesians 4:32; Col. 3:13). The Lord has not given us the option of not forgiving. He taught indeed that if they do not forgive, their heavenly Father will not forgive them for their offenses (Mt 6.14-15). This is serious! All the same, the repentant believer faces the pain of having his apology refused by a fellow believer.

If so, what to do? Well, there's not much to do! Please note: we ask for forgiveness, we aim at repairing any moral or material damage we caused (and that may not miss — see Luke 19.8). However, the person refused to forgive. In that case, all that remains is to leave with a clear conscience. What we could and should do was done, or we set out to do. If the person did not accept it... Let us pray for her and try and repair the most the damage caused by our mistake. Some day perhaps forgiveness will come. God works in people's hearts.

The second danger faced by the individual who asks forgiveness is to receive what he asked, but some sort of punishment or revenge precedes it. It happens that some people facing someone who asks for their forgiveness interpret this as a license to offend, attack and humiliate even more the person who is trying to fix things. They think, "If he is asking forgiveness he recognizes that he is the wrong one. So now I have moral authority and to teach him a good lesson”. He then loads the bazooka and the devastation begins.

These people do not take into account that the one before them is already feeling weakened, humiliated, tense, sad. In fact, it is someone who needs support, love and a hug of reconciliation, the kind that restores the most crushed and sore heart. Such cruel torturers need to learn about the kind of forgiveness God gives and imitate him, receiving the "penitents" with softness, compassion and sympathy.

Yes, asking forgiveness is risky. There is the natural embarrassment one feels by recognizing his mistake before someone else; there is the humiliation of going before someone with a supplicant posture, aiming that the mistake made is no longer taken into account; there is the embarrassment of recalling an ugly attitude that originated in malice, immaturity, neglect and foolishness – things that insist on springing from within us.

Unfortunately, the discomfort of asking forgiveness is not limited to those things. Who pleads a person’s forgiveness does not know what is going to run into. You can find a closed heart that says no, turns back and walk away unmoved; or you can find a cruel heart that hurts first and after much torture – after charging a bitter price - grants what was asked.

However, the servant of God has no choice when offending someone. His consciousness influenced by the Holy Spirit does not leave other choice. He finds himself tempted to kick the memory of the offense to the corner expecting it to be erased by time. However, deep down he knows that an old, abandoned offense remains an offense. And even if the victim forgets it, it is still there before God, alive, shining and brand new.

So even with the burdens and risks, he approaches the person hurt and says, "I need you to listen to me a minute. I messed up with you and hurt you. My sin has brought pain and loss I want to fix at all costs. But before you do anything, would you give me your forgiveness...?". What next? We do not know and it scares a little. Let’s go forward then, dealing with one problem at a time.

Pr. Marcos Granconato
Strength and faith
Soli Deo Gloria

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