The Role of Pride and Self
I don’t need to tell any of you what the Bible says about pride and self; you know already. Instead, here’s a question for discussion:
If a person finds him or herself in a situation where they have a real struggle forgiving another person for something they have done, hypothetically speaking, are they demonstrating godly love or could it be that pride or self may be involved?
Of course, it is certainly true that when others have sinned against us there can be many factors and variables in operation at the same time, not to mention a variety of emotions. Injustice is never easy to swallow, nor is outright violence or loss. Yet when the emotions begin to subside and healing has begun to take place, there are many times when the only thing that stands between us and forgiving the other person is pride or self, and in some cases, these are manifested by rage, resentment and/or a strong desire for retribution.
Hypothetically speaking, how do these emotions reflect God’s teaching of love, humility and forgiveness?
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Chances are that you learned this as a child; even if you weren’t brought up in a Christian home. Since this is a lesson on forgiveness, let’s get right to the point, since we are already familiar with this verse.
If you did something that resulted in pain or harm or hurt to another person, would you want them to forgive you?
OK, nobody ever says “no” to that question. Let’s try another one:
Are you willing to be first and forgive others who hurt you in some way, even if they might not always forgive you?
Ah, now that one isn’t quite as easy. If you said “yes,” then have you already forgiven those who have wronged you in your life? Maybe we need to take a look at that one before you answer.
We know that God has forgiven us for our sins when we become Christians. There are literally hundreds of verses in the New Testament that tell us so, in fact they tell us that not only has God forgiven us, but that He has taken our sins away completely. It isn’t as though our “permanent record” shows that we have committed infractions, and that those infractions are “paid for”. God has taken the infractions away completely; our “record” is completely clean. Thus, God’s forgiveness means that there is no record of our sins any more, and that there is no penalty or repercussions either: We have been justified before God.
What great news!
Then God tells us that just as our sins have been forgiven, so also must we forgive others. When we forgive another person, that means that we no longer reserve the right to punish them; there are no repercussions from us. If the person has committed a crime, there might be legal ramifications, and if they are not followers of Christ, they may have an issue with God, but we have acknowledged that we have forgiven them and have moved on. That doesn’t mean that we have necessarily forgotten the incident, and it surely doesn’t mean that we will put ourselves or our families into harm’s way, but we will not seek to impose sanctions ourselves, and there will be no grudges. When we do this, we gain two wonderful advantages, first, we will grow closer in our relationship with Jesus Christ, for our action is one of love and within His will for us. Second, we will have lifted a terrible burden off of our own shoulders, since we won’t have the baggage of pain and emotional trauma to carry through life any more.
So, back to the question: Are you willing to be first and forgive others who hurt you in some way, even if they might not always forgive you?