The Christian living site of Pastor Jim Piper, Jr.

Forgiveness Is A Gift: Part 5

December 14, 2012 :: Jim Piper, Jr.

Staying out of the Dungeon of Unforgiveness

The first part of prevention is to seek understanding. I have found that many of our relational problems are rooted in the wounds of our past. The past deforms our abilities to relate and resolve conflict if we do not apply understanding to “why” we feel the way we do and “why” the other person feels the way they do. The aged old saying, “Walk a mile in my shoes” still makes a lot of sense when it comes to calming down and bringing some grace into a situation. As Stephen Covey has written, “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.” This is very good advice.

The second part of prevention is to examine your unenforceable rules. You read that right. The key word is unenforceable. We all have spoken or unspoken rules we project upon life. Many of these rules are simply unenforceable and sometimes unrealistic. Let me illustrate a few of the most common and what is true and untrue about each:

Rule 1: People must be faithful to me.

True: All healthy relationships are based upon trust.
Untrue: Once trust is broken, the relationship must end.

Rule 2: People must be fair to me.

True: Fairness is usually understood as a “win-win” transaction.
Untrue: Relationships are like transactions.

Rule 3: My past has stolen my present and future.

True: Our past echoes into our present and future.
Untrue: Our past limit God’s ability to impact our present and future.

The problem with unenforceable rules is that they are unenforceable. If you live by rules you cannot control, you will live a miserable life. This is true because not everyone lives by your rules. To make matters worse, even if we all tried to live by your rules, we will fail you. We fail God, others, and ourselves. Sometimes, that’s what we humans do best. Unenforceable laws are simply “Unrealistic Expectations.”

Here’s the truth. Because of our weaknesses, we will fail one another. What is the answer to this friction? The answer is similar to the oil we pour into the engines of our automobiles. We pour oil into our engines to relieve the heat and friction caused by parts made of steel that move in close proximity to one another.

Like the oil that cools and lubricates an engine, so does the application of forgiveness, mercy, and grace cool and lubricate our relationships. Forgiveness is a gift from God to be poured. To live a healthy live, each of us need to receive and over-flow God’s forgiveness to others who have sinned against us.

The preventative discipline against bitterness is the hard work of seeking to understand God, self, and others, and to examine and rid ourselves of unenforceable laws. Each of us must remember that Jesus enforced the law of God by living a perfect life and offering it back to God on our behalf. Now, we can follow in Christ’s steps by receiving his life and pouring it into all our relationships. This is forgiveness and this is Christianity.

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