“So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”
Talking about forgiveness is uncomfortable when we are addressing those who have wounded us. How much more so when we look to those occasions in which it is we who were the offenders. It is the plank in our own eye, keeping us from accurately dealing with the speck in our offender’s. (Matthew 7:3)
When looking at ourselves and our own shortfalls, it is important to make sure our mirror is accurate. There are so many fun-house mirrors that will keep us from dealing accurately with our own sins. Some mirrors inflate our own righteousness, and
some inflate our guilt. In either circumstance, forgiveness and freedom will be kept at bay.
In some mirrors we cannot see our faults. We have justified our every action and demonized the actions of those around us. In this mirror we look like a victim to the whims of everyone around us, and we hold bitterness against our perceived offenders. While it is true that there are times when we are truly blameless, it does not hurt for us to reexamine the offense from another perspective. One way to do this, is to ask the questions, “How could I have handled this situation better?” and “Could any of my actions or responses be interpreted by another as an offense?”
In other mirrors, all we see is our own guilt. We feel as though any attempt to seek forgiveness will be mocked by those we hurt. We believe that no amount of humility will soften those we hurt, and no repentance will cause them to forgive us. This kind of guilt draws us into a despair where it becomes difficult to even forgive ourselves.
There is a true mirror though. One that will show us accurately our responsibility without crushing us with shame. David shows us the mirror in a prayer that he prayed in Psalm 139:23-24. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Homework this week: With paper and pen ready, pray the above prayer, and then listen.
Write down the things that God reveals to you. Do not argue with your thoughts, or justify your actions. If God brought it to your mind, it is best to deal with it honestly. Remember that God brings these to mind for your freedom and forgiveness, and not to condemn you.
Once written, pray over the list, and ask God how he would like for you to proceed. Perhaps a letter, perhaps face to face, perhaps, just to forgive yourself and let go of the past.
Lastly, rejoice! God is bringing you into freedom!