I’ve been struggling to forgive someone. Not just recently, for years. And often that unforgiveness has been agony. Because I have spent hours in my head playing over the way they wronged me; feeling in my heart the pain they inflicted on me in the past, because I have relived each instance over and over again. And with each fresh cycle of remembrance my self-righteousness grew, so that I became an entirely innocent victim of their anger. And I was miserable.
I thought that the key to me finding joy again was being able to forgive this person. To manage out of my loving nature, my supreme spiritual power, to muster up feelings of peace and harmony towards them. I was wrong.
The key to finding joy was to see my sin more clearly again. To feel the guilt of my sin. To ask for forgiveness for myself. To come to Jesus and see once again how unlovable I am and yet how loved I am. To look to the cross and wonder that the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me.
It’s what David promises in Psalm 32:1-2. My problem was that in my spirit there was deceit. The lie of my own innocence. The lie that I was simply a victim and not a criminal in that relationship. That’s why my experience was the emotional pain that caused me “groaning all day long”. The Lord would not let me rest with the sin of my self-righteousness.
I’m reading Tim Keller’s book “Prayer” and have just come to the line in the Lord’s prayer that makes me afraid: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Keller wisely comments, “If we have not seen our sin and sought radical forgiveness from God, we will be unable to forgive and to seek the good of those who have wronged us. So unresolved bitterness is a sign that we are not right with God. It also means that if we are holding a grudge, we should see the hypocrisy of seeking forgiveness from God for sins of our own.” (Page 115-116)
Do you know that I am even beginning to forget some of the times that I felt wronged.