Altercations between two sincere and loving persons are inevitable.
Memories are seldom accurate or the same between two who recall situations differently.
And then there are times when even the most poised person gets into an obstinate or “all about me” mood.
It really is impossible to always be up, cheerful and agreeable.
Arguments are a reality.
Sometimes, a person suppresses his/her feelings and practices peace-at-any-price just to get along.
But the problem with that is, it requires persons to bury their real feelings, and unexpressed feelings never die—they’re buried alive and come forth later in uglier ways.
So how do we successfully handle these times of altercation?
Did you see the movie from decades ago,
Love Story? The lead was played by Ali McGraw who said this somewhat famous line, "
Love is never having to say you're sorry.
" Remember? Great drama—bum philosophy and even worse theology.
On the other hand, just saying “I’m sorry” may work for the moment, but whatever caused it will probably come up again, and again during similar situations.
The key is to forgive
But that takes more than responding to an “I’m sorry.”
Of course, it is always to our benefit to forgive. It keeps Satan at a disadvantage.
If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven--if there was anything to forgive--I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
2 Cor 2:7
However, we are
not commanded (note, I wrote "
commanded") to forgive a brother in Christ unless that person
asks for forgiveness. But, when that person does ask for forgiveness, we have no choice, we must forgive and forget, even if he/she asks seven times a day for the repetition of the same offense.
If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, `I repent,' forgive him." Luke 17:3, 4
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Rather strong warning and foreboding words from Jesus, don't you think?
Paul had much to say on this subject too:
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31, 32
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
And Jesus taught:
"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. The servant fell on his knees before him. `Be patient with me,' he begged, `and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. `Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, `Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.
When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. `You wicked servant,' he said, `I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." MT18:23-35
Here are the two points I want to make:
Often we say, "
I'm sorry." and feel that is all we need to say. Wrong. That may get the
feelings satisfied but forgiveness requires more to be complete. It takes two to Tango! The words,
need to be followed by an indication of repentance which is best communicated by the words, "
Will you forgive me?"
Try it. It goes like this, "
Honey, I'm sorry fo
Will you forgive me?" That question requires the offended person to respond—a response that God commands the response to be “yes” and then to forget the offenses forever and never bring it up again.
When one "
" that means that person is never—not ever even in future similar circumstances—to forgive means to never bring it up again—never! It's history. "Forgotten!
Forgiven and forgotten!
As Jesus said, we are to forgive others in the same way that God forgives us. And that is, "
as far as the east is from the west, I will remember your sins no more."
(Ps 103:12). It does not mean that God has
had a lapse of memory; it means He will never bring them up, or hold them against us, ever again. Wonderful! We are to do the same. Make sense?
I am blessed with my wife, Noreen, as you well know. She's the best when it comes to forgive and forget. When I tell her I'm sorry and ask for her forgiveness, she forgives and forgets. Never—not one time in 29 years—has she ever brought that item up to me again.
It makes for fast and complete healing—all the difference in the world.
Then we move on like it never happened.
With God’s help and your mind and heart prepared in advance to behave that way, you too can do it.
There may be left over unavoidable resulting consequences, but the forgiveness is complete.
May God be glorified as we forgive others as He has forgiven us.