Freed to Change - thursday 2004-10-21 0617 last modified 2004-10-21 1735
Categories: Christianity
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We had a discussion on the definition of forgiveness. Someone mentioned "forget," and there was a whole hornet's nest of opinions. The hot button issue was money - could you truly forgive someone for messing up with money you loaned to them three times over while deciding to never loan them money again based on their past actions? Of course, money can cloud the issue, but there it is - is it wisdom or is it not to let someone's past determine your opinion of their present and future?

I'm reminded of a discussion I passively watched concerning medical ethics. Consider two people in need of a liver transplant, one a career alcoholic and criminal, the other the loving mother of two. One participant vehemently declared it was obvious the bastard should die, and the mother should live to take care of her kids. Without trying to define "right" in regards to ethics, would that have been the right choice if the criminal changed his ways because of another chance at life, or if the woman changed her ways to take advantage of the freedom she missed wasting her time on children?

Stepping away from that sticky theoretical situation, if we don't forgive people around us and forget their trespasses -- and I mean forget -- we have trapped them in a stereotype, a typecast that could very well prevent them from ever changing. Sometimes our attitudes are designed to provoke the exact response we won't forgive, and until we can shed ourselves of our own unforgiving baggage, we aren't doing anybody any favors.

What intuitively seems like wisdom is deathly, what seems foolishness is faith and hope. God does not extend forgiveness to His children based on our past conduct, using it as an indicator of our probable future behavior. He does it without reserve. He forgets.

Forgiving and forgetting go together. You could possibly forget without forgiving. But you can't forgive without forgetting. In doing so, people are freed to change. That could mean the world to them.

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