It was C. S. Lewis who once said, “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive.”
It was in 2005 when I faced a personal crisis. Someone in this community was spreading hurtful and damaging untruths about me. It was one of the most painful chapters of my life. As I was walking through that pain, I was introduced to a book by RT Kendall, a book was aptly titled, Total Forgiveness.
One of the most challenging quotes in the book reads: “When everything within you wants to hold a grudge, point a finger and remember the pain, God wants you to lay it all aside.”
RT Kendall wrote the book after being deeply hurt by a younger man he was mentoring in ministry. When sharing his pain with a pastor friend, he expected to hear, “RT, you are right to feel so angry. What happened to you was awful.” Instead, his pastor friend said, “You must totally forgive them.” Dumbfounded, RT told him the story again, this time adding more details. His friend interrupted with words that would change RT’s life, “RT, you must totally forgive them. Release them, and you will be set free.”
On Sunday we’ll consider both what forgiveness is and what it isn’t as we work out of Matthew 6:14 where these sobering words of Jesus are recorded: “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.”
As hard as it is at times, Jesus calls us to TOTAL FORGIVENESS. He calls us to bury the hatchet of our lingering, perpetuating, embittering grudges.