Someone I care about stole from me today.
I said it.
I’m still trying to process this fact, and I am grieving the loss of trust in this relationship.
I am hurt and angry.
This is certainly not the first time I have been wronged by a friend. It is certainly not the worst situation.
And yet, I am struggling more with this situation than other situations.
Because in my flesh, I do not feel inclined to forgive this person.
I’m just being honest here.
(Don’t yell at me: read the whole post.)
In spite of all my health stuff, I still try to minister to others. To be a blessing. To help where and if I can.
I have gone out of my way, bent over backwards, to be supportive of this person. I’ve given precious resources of time, money, and energy to help him.
When I confronted him about the theft, he made excuses.
There was no repentance. No admission that he had done anything wrong.
In my humanness, my sinfulness, I want to write this person off and exclude him from my life.
Due to circumstances beyond my control, complete cessation of interaction is not an option.
If I am going to interact with this person, I am going to do my best to do it in a way that honors the Lord.
That means forgiving him.
I am the first person to admit that when something unpleasant or difficult happens in our lives it is because God is allowing that situation to grow us in Him to strengthen our character and make us more like Jesus.
This situation is no different.
Jesus was clear that we were supposed to forgive our enemies when they sin against us. I know I can’t expect those who don’t know Jesus to be able to live godly lives, because they do not have the ability to live in his strength and power.
This person claims to be a believer.
The situations I struggle with the most are when the person claims to be of Christ but is unrepentant of sin when confronted according to pattern put forth in the Bible.
In case you’re unfamiliar with this bible pattern, I’ll explain.
When someone is in sin, according to scripture, those who are more mature or in leadership at the church are to go to that person and try to correct them by showing them chapter and verse what they have done wrong. If they will not listen, you return with another person to address the issue again.
[Since we don’t attend church together and have very divergent views in our faith, I feel that taking him before the church is not an option. My forgiveness is not dependent on his repentance.]
If they still will not listen, you treat them like an unbeliever.
This basically means that you don’t have Christian fellowship with them anymore. It doesn’t mean that you have an excuse to gossip or mistreat them.
Since we are supposed to love even our enemies, we would be remiss if we treated the person harshly. Although they may think it harsh if we stop having fellowship with them.
But, that’s not really mistreating them.
The problem that is even bigger in my mind than removing fellowship is forgiveness.
It is so hard to forgive when your trust has been broken.
Yet, I am reminded that Christ forgave so much more from me than I could ever forgive from my friend.
My friend’s sins did not put me to death on a cross. Jesus even forgave those who crucified him.
Christs suffered far more justice than He calls me to suffer.
I spent the morning reading verses on forgiveness. Although I am not thrilled about how the chain reference part of my bible is organized, this is one time it came in very handy.
I was struck by 1 Corinthians 13 where it says that love keeps no record of wrongs. If I am supposed to treat everyone with love even my enemies, then my sinning Christian brother is no different.
Not recording and holding on to this wrong, this betrayal of trust, is really challenging me.
But, I know God brought me to this situation to learn to forgive.
So though His grace that’s what I am going to try to do.
The Parable of the unforgiving servant comes to mind. Jesus has forgiven me for so much! I demonstrate true thankfulness for what Christ has done for me by be willing to forgive others.
How many times am I to forgive? This person wronged me deeply, but only once.
Just as there is no limit to God’s forgiveness, there should be no limit to mine.
I am not saying this is easy.
Far from it, truth be told.
But, when I honestly consider how much I have been forgiven, how can I not also forgive my friend?
It doesn’t mean that I trust this person and will put him in a position that he can steal from me again.
That would be foolish, and God expects me to make wise choices.
Forgiveness means not reserving my right to be be angry or vengeful.
Vengeance belongs to God.
By the end of the day now, I believe I have reached a point of forgiveness.
But it has certainly been a growing experience.
I appreciate all the more what Jesus has done for me.