Ah, the one part about the Christian faith that we hate even more than celibacy. Forgiveness. I have seen so many people over the years deal with the idea of forgiveness in just a couple of different ways. Often they either choose to truly forgive the person or organization which harmed them, or they do not. Most have struggled and fallen on the second option, and many have created rationalizations telling why they could not forgive. Often it revolved around having been hurt too badly to be able to forgive.
But I really like what Lewis has to say here. He calls us all out and points out our flaw if we choose to argue too much hurt.
We love ourselves. And not only are we to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, but we are to forgive others as we are forgiven by God.
Lately this topic has come up a lot around me. There is a lot of hurt in our world and a lot of need for forgiveness. Lewis points out that even when we sin ourselves, we maintain a love for ourselves, we simply hate what we have done. (Though I have met a few people over the years who genuinely loathe themselves). We are to act with the same attitude toward others, whether they be our friend, sibling or a celebrity who has screwed up and we are hearing about it on what passes for the evening news. This is not to say that loving ourselves and our neighbors requires us to forego punishment when a sin has been committed. In fact we should lead the way and seek out consequences when we have sinned. Holding one’s self to God’s standard when it comes to sin is indeed required to love one’s self. And yet, we have the opportunity to release others from punishment when they have sinned against us. (Though we are within our rights to expect justice to be done, so long as it is just we seek and not vengeance).
This is a difficult chapter for anyone who is struggling to forgive someone else. We need to remember that God does not forgive us because we are nice people with redeeming qualities (in fact, we are not). We are told explicitly in Scripture that if we do not forgive others we will not be forgiven. God forgives because He loves us. We need to forgive because we love each other… and ourselves.