I’ve continued to chew on the subject of forgiveness since posting about reading Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers. And a question came to mind this morning. And then I thought and prayed about it through the eyes of Christmas.
Before I get ahead of myself, here’s the question: Who takes the first step in forgiveness?
Does the offender or the offended? The answer may seem obvious…until you stop and chew on it. The ideal scenario would be the offender. But what if they can’t take the first step? What does that mean, they can’t? Here are some reasons:
- They are no longer living. The conversation is no longer possible, so the offended person has to do the work of forgiveness never hearing what they wish they could.
- They genuinely don’t know. Has this ever happened to you? You found out down the road that you offended someone, but you had no idea about it. Whether the offender should have known or not really isn’t the first issue, in this case. They can’t seek forgiveness for what they don’t know-that the other person was offended.
- They innocently don’t know. Has this ever happened to you? You said or did something ignorant of it’s offensiveness. Similar to the previous scenario, they can’t seek forgiveness for what they don’t know-that their action was offensive.
- They don’t have the capacity. This may be the hardest to see and accept. That doesn’t change the reality that some people simply don’t have the capacity to seek forgiveness at the time the offended would like. That’s tough, but realizing that opens the door for forgiveness to move forward in a different scenario.
As I thought about encouraging those offended on taking the first step, I realized a connection with Christmas. All of us living today have a need for God’s forgiveness. But he didn’t wait for us to come to him to seek it in order to make it available. He took care of that before we were born. He took the first step. He did that when we couldn’t. How humbling! How glorious!
So can the offended take the first step? Yes. Is it easy? No. But it might be easier when you realize God did it for you. You can pass it along. You can take the first step.
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