According to Ken Sande, founder of Peacemakers Ministries, there are four promises one makes that involve real forgiving:
- I won’t brood over this incident.
- I won’t dwell on this incident, bringing it up again to use it against you.
- I won’t talk to others about this incident.
- I won’t allow this incident to create distance between us or hinder our relationship.
Does your family have an “incident” that keeps being brought up year after year or at more frequent family gatherings? For example, Uncle Ervin getting drunk and violent at the family picnic in the summer of 1967. Or cousin Suzanne being confronted by her husband at the family Christmas party in 1978. These incidents can become almost legendary, taking on the status of a “Hatfield-McCoy” type of legend.
But when they are continually brought up again and again for whatever reasons, they take on a life of their own. They also cripple any healing that can and must happen.
Some of the things we do or say do get out in the open. The consequences of that are enormous. But if we help that along by talking to others about wrongs that happen to us, we tear apart the healing process.
It’s natural to want to tell someone else when we’ve been hurt. We want to have someone else bear our burden with us. While there are circumstances where this is necessary and helpful, not everything should be shared. It could hurt both you and the person who has wronged you.
That’s why Jesus says that the first step in the forgiving process is to “go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.”
Jesus wouldn’t have said it if He wasn’t willing to model forgiving in this way. And so He did. His death on the cross was personal. It was between Him and you. Your sin separated you from God. But God loved you so much that He sent Jesus to restore you with His death and resurrection.
This salvation is also your power to forgive others. As God has forgiven you in Jesus Christ, so you can also forgive others when they sin against you. Your relationship can be restored through the power of the Gospel.
Keep that in mind when your family gets together this day to celebrate Thanksgiving!