Last week, I posted that the first step in slaying the Church Monster of Bitterness is to make the intentional decision to forgive people who hurt you. To read more about the first step in slaying our Church Monster click here.
Step 2: Charis?
The first step of forgiveness is to make the difficult choice to let the pain go and throw it away from you. But here is the interesting thing, and this is why I love studying the original languages, God uses more than one word for forgiveness.
The first word for forgiveness that we talked about last time(Aphiemi) one means, let it go – send it away. The second word means this: forgiveness means showing grace.
In Colossians 3:13 is one place where this other form of forgiveness comes into play. And here is what we read:
Bear with each other, forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
What makes this challenging is that word for forgive comes from the Greek word Charis. Charis literally means grace. If we are unfamiliar with the concept, grace means we give someone a gift they absolutely do not deserve.
Dealing with the Unfairness
Last week I shared that making the decision to forgive can feel unfair. The person we are forgiving has hurt us and no we are letting them off easy. I also agreed that this is totally unfair. The person we are forgiving absolutely does not deserve our forgiveness.
That’s why it’s grace. We are giving them something they do not deserve.
Let me put it another way, when we are unforgiving towards each other we are like Ebenezer Scrooge. When we are unforgiving, it’s like we put a c-clamp on our emotional wallet. The emotional Ebenezer Scrooge says, “I am not going to do that. I worked hard for this. I am going to keep all my grace and forgiveness to myself because they don’t deserve it.”
What’s Wrong with Scrooge?
Now perhaps the question is “What’s wrong with being an emotional Scrooge?” After all, I’ve already said that the other person doesn’t deserve our forgiveness.
The problem is that our unforgiveness begins to taint other people and experiences. Have you ever gone through a bad breakup? Or even an okay break up? After you break up with someone, have you ever noticed that you feel weird hearing songs or watching movies you used to enjoy with the other person? If you’ve gone through a bad breakup or divorce you can actually lose friends and social contacts.
Holding onto bitterness can affect our life and relationships in a similar way. What happens in our churches when we have bitterness towards someone in our church? Our bitterness towards them makes it harder to worship, harder to talk to other people who are friends with them, harder to serve when they are around and more. It becomes easier to leave the church than to put up with the bitterness.
As a pastor, I have seen many people leave churches largely because of bitterness towards others.
So Now What?
I challenge you to make the difficult decision. Choose to let go of your wounds and send them away by showing grace to the people who have hurt you.
In the next post, I’ll share some very specific steps that can help you practice forgiveness in a very real and transforming way.