Thursday, October 29, 2009

Forgive Your Neighbor

Owen Schmitt, Seattle Seahawks fullback, beat his head with his own helmet in pregame warm-ups recently and split his head. He was on the sideline with an open wound and blood running down his face. You have to admire a guy like that…. Not!

We know people do that kind of thing. There's no denying that. It's not as if people don't hurt themselves sometimes, but when they do we don't overlook their behavior as if it is normal. We know something is not right. Without thinking, the word "bonehead" comes out of my mouth every time I see the video of Schmitt whacking his noggin.

C. S. Lewis asserts that the same tendency we have to protect our head instead of hurt it is the same tendency we have to forgive ourselves when we do wrong (Mere Christianity, "Forgiveness"). You don't have to write me telling me that some people don't forgive themselves for shameful acts. However, when people don't forgive themselves, we usually know that something is wrong and we try to convince them that they should forgive themselves.

Upon what principle do people usually forgive themselves? In the context of loving their wives like they love themselves, Paul wrote about husbands, "… no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it…" (Eph 5:29). People forgive themselves because they love themselves.

Jesus said that the second greatest command is to "Love your neighbor as yourself." There are many things involved in love, and one of them is forgiveness. How would Paul say you can love your neighbor like yourself? Feed him like you feed yourself. Care for her like you care for yourself. Here's a key application: forgive your neighbor like you forgive yourself.

Here are two reasons why we find it easy to forgive ourselves out of love for ourselves: (1) We know the pain that accompanies blame and bitterness and we don't want to make ourselves live with it; and (2) we judge ourselves by our intentions rather than our actions.

What would happen if you began to let those principles of self-love begin to work in your unforgiving heart for others? What if your neighbors, those who need your mercy, were to be loved by you like you love yourself? Could you, in order to love your neighbor like you love yourself, determine that you are not going to make them continue to live with the blame of what they did to you? Could you, in order to love your neighbor like you love yourself, assume the best about them instead of the worst – judging them by intentions rather than actions?

You can forgive them. That's Life at Work!

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