Everyone who has ever been hurt by another person, in their life, should read this...
The way we handle relationships is the real measure of whether we are growing. Conflict is an ongoing course in the curriculum of life that we never really graduate from. We all can look back over the landscape of our lives and see the aftermath of destroyed relationships and wonder what happened. The vicious cycle continues when we seek for emotional equilibrium by obsessing over the question of who was right and who was wrong. The objectivity of a mediator may even conclude that the person you are at odds with is 99% wrong in the dispute. However, it is possible to have such an adamant need to be prove that you are right that you are wrong in your need to be right. I know that sounds paradoxical but it is true..How 'bout that? What an awesome way to describe why forgiveness is actually for the benefit of the one doing the forgiving. That concept now makes more sense than ever, to me.
Forgiveness which is a supreme virtue eludes us due to misunderstanding its very nature. Forgiveness is not an emotion, its an unremitting decision that we never receive an exemption from. No matter how unjust our situation may seem. We can contend, defend, or even pretend not to be affected. But the cycle will continue until we embrace the real issue which is seeking to understand, rather than demanding to be understood. This must be why Jesus said “Take heed how you hear” not just what you hear. What is said to you and what you hear are not always the same. A lot of unnecessary grief can be avoided by realizing that people in our lives seldom say or do things to us because of who we are, but because of who they are. This brings me to the title of this article..
Let me explain what I mean by being affected and not infected. To many forgiveness is learning to suppress their feelings and developing higher levels of hypocrisy. As human beings we will never get to the point that we are not affected by hurtful things that people do. But we don’t have to allow it to infect us with the venom of unforgiving. It has been said that no one ever died from a snake bite. Its the venom if allowed to circulate from the point of the strike to the rest of the body that kills.
Several years ago I was preparing for my first trip to Africa and was required to be immunized before leaving the states. The reason being was that the particular country I was traveling to had many highly contagious diseases that I could be vulnerable to. When I went to be vaccinated I was unprepared for the side effects that would follow. The next day I began to experience flu like symptoms such as fever and chills. I realized that the injection I had received was a low dose of all the diseases that I would be exposed to. My immune system was being strengthened to resist possible infection by actually being injected with the diseases. .
We never know when the serpent of unforgiven is going to strike. The question is not if it will happen, but when it happens will we allow it to infect us. If we make the decision to forgive when bitten our immune system is made stronger. One of the signs that follow believers according to Mark 16 is that they will take up serpents and be unharmed. Could it be that one of the meanings of that statement is that when we reach out to someone in trust and are bitten we can choose to release the antibody of forgiveness?.
Judas is probably one of the most infamous characters in all of history and is synonymous with betrayal. Jesus had so trusted him that he made him treasurer of all his finances. He lead a posse of religious leaders to arrest Jesus and identified him by kissing him repeatedly. The irony of this well known incident is that Judas did not in any way think he was betraying Jesus. He actually thought that what he was doing would pressure Jesus to do what he had been reluctant to do. To mobilize the people of Israel and lead an overthrow of the Roman government. That same night the scripture says that Satan aka the serpent had entered Judas. The original language indicates that his betrayal was not a single kiss but that he repeatedly kissed Jesus. All the time saying it seems “everything is alright Jesus”….. “I am doing whats best for you”…..”This is your opportunity to display your messianic powers.” Again and again the serpent struck Jesus. Jesus had been injected with rejection his entire ministry. So at this moment he was immune to what appeared to be the fatal bites of a friend turned serpent..
There are many opinions about what was Jesus greatest display of power ranging from walking on the water to raising the dead. I think the most salient moment came on the cross when he exonerated his enemies by saying “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” In essence he is saying that what they were doing to him was insanity. Insane people have no idea that what they are doing to others is egregious in nature. The affect of the physical injuries that Jesus sustained on the cross were unimaginable. But the betrayal of his friends when he needed them the most was in my opinion even more traumatic..
How do we get through the pain of relational injury? The answer is not simply being told “get over it.” The redemptive response to rejection, offense, insult, etc. is always “forgive them for they know not what they do.” This is the mind of Christ. Our minds will always seek vindication and will never be satisfied. But his thoughts working in ours brings a peace that passes understanding.
I'm getting there.