I mentioned yesterday that we were invited by Christ to pick up our cross. Each us has a unique burden, but each of us also struggle with similar challenges. As we continue our conversation about embracing our struggle, I thought I would return to the topic of forgiveness. We heard several weeks ago, before the beginning of our Great Lenten Journey, that if we didn’t forgive others in our hearts, God would not forgive us. Forgiveness is a difficult cross.
Because of the addiction of sin, we are surrounded by wounded and suffering brothers and sisters. I have known many alcoholics who wake up every morning not wanting to be drunk, but by noon have fallen again to temptation. We don’t blame them for their addiction. We instead pray for them and help them figure out a healthier way of life. We may be hurt by them, but we know the pain is really caused by the disease of alcoholism.
The ability to not hold alcoholism against an alcoholic is the essence of forgiveness. We feel pain when alcoholics behave poorly against us, but we see the cause of the pain isn’t the person. It is the alcohol. So why can’t we do the same with other forms of sin? Every Christian that I know wakes up in the morning not wanting to sin, but by noon are nearly drunk with sin. Why is it we refuse to give sinners the same benefit of the doubt that we give alcoholics?
Time after time I find myself hearing someone’s confession speaking about sin and forgiveness. Once we accept that sin is the cause of the pain, and not the sinner, then we can find the forgiveness in our heart. Then we can work through the struggle of forgiveness for what is really is. It begins, as everything does, with Christ’s invitation yesterday to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Christ. Forgiveness begins with accepting that sin is against God, not us. If we refuse to forgive, we are living as if we are greater than God. Here is a reminder of our call to forgiveness in Are we Greater than God?
God forgives. If we want to follow Christ into heaven, forgiveness is also our cross as it was His. God forgave us long before we awoke this morning and begin to sin again, and He will forgive us every time we ask. Why can’t we offer others the same opportunity? We can if we have the will to forgive. It may be our cross to bear, but it will lead us to heaven.