As I was meditating my way through cleaning the kitchen this morning, I began thinking about forgiveness.
I often ponder that when I appear before the Lord for judgment, the one sin I hope I do not bring with me there is unforgiveness. I do mental checks on this one often…even when I’m not particularly examining my conscience.
It’s so easy to overlook unforgiveness. Once I went with a friend to visit her aunt, who was deeply religious. She and her husband attended a charismatic non-denominational church, and they spoke openly and boldly about Jesus. In fact, my friend had abandoned her Catholic faith to join the church they attended.
Before our visit ended, my friend’s aunt showed me around her home. She came to one painting hanging on a wall and said, “This belongs to my friend, Jane. But, she’s never going to see it again, after what she did to me.” Then she simply moved on, without missing a beat.
I was astonished. After listening to her speak so familiarly about Jesus the entire time I was at her house, it seemed a contradiction to end on this note of unforgiveness or holding a grudge against her friend….and worst of all was that she seemed totally unaware that she was doing anything wrong.
Don’t misunderstand. This was a good and kind lady who sincerely loved God. Yet, she was simply blind, it seemed, to her unforgiveness.
I have never forgotten this incident which occurred over 30 years ago. God used it to impress upon me the importance of being vigilant about not holding grudges.
Guess what I did this morning? For some reason, my husband likes to re-arrange the silverware drawer in the kitchen. This drives me crazy. I am left-handed, and like the knives, etc., to go in a certain direction. He thinks they should go the opposite way. He also reverses the order of the salad forks and dinner forks. I have asked him not to do this, but there they were, all re-arranged again this morning.
My first impulse was to obstinately change them back to my way. In fact, I did so with the knives. Then I thought how silly it all was! Why was I annoyed with my husband over something so insignificant, when he does so many thoughtful things for me? Is it worth sacrificing a chance to please Our Lord, just to have my way? I picked up the knives and put them back in my husband’s order. And then I laughed at myself! 🙂
It is so easy to get annoyed with others, to compete with them, to hold little grudges that we don’t even notice. But Jesus notices. Jesus Who forgives us everything. Jesus Whom I have greviously offended so many times in my life….how can I be annoyed by little offenses against me?
I recall the many parables Jesus told about unforgiveness. It is a great sin, because God has forgiven us so very much, and what an insult to Him if we, who are sinners, refuse to forgive others.
We must forgive, whether those who have offended us are sorry or not. We must forgive even if they never apologize or seek to make amends. We sometimes think that God only forgives us when we are sorry. But that isn’t true.
How do we reach the point of being sorry for our sins? It is through His Grace and Mercy. Long before we have confessed those sins, God has given us the light and grace and spirit of repentance to bring them to confession. His forgiveness is always there. What we have to do is accept it. He isn’t waiting for apologies, He is initiating them! Without Him, we can do nothing!
So this Advent, won’t you join me in an in-depth examination of conscience on this sin of unforgiveness or holding a grudge or harboring resentment? Let us bring hearts filled with charity to the Christ-Child this Christmas….He Who came that we might be forgiven everything.
LORD, You are too wonderful for words!