Every time I go to my small group, I end up feeling convicted about something. And it’s driving me crazy.
I had a friend back in college who blew up at me once – and it was for something pretty silly. He was mad that the costume designer in the play we were both in wouldn’t sew a button on his shirt. I was the messenger (I don’t remember how or why) so I was the one who felt the brunt of her message. He yelled, threw the shirt back at me, and caused a big scene in the green room. This guy was a good friend, and how he treated me was inexcusable. I let him know that. And he stomped away.
The next day in the cafeteria a mutal friend of ours came up to me and said “I think you should say something to him.” So my reply was, “Why? I didn’t do anything wrong. He should come to me if anything.” Our friend’s reply was “Sometimes it’s best to be the bigger person, no matter who’s right or wrong.”
I knew our friend was right, so of course I had no reply. But I was still my stubborn self and did nothing. That evening, I was apoligized to for the whole button incident, and I forgave him just like any “good Christian girl” (shout-out to Rebekah) would do. He and I remained friends – it was really no big deal. But I remember it to this day. Why? Because “Sometimes it’s best to be the bigger person.” Those words are still with me.
Oswald Chambers wrote about the importance justice plays in forgiveness. From Daily Thoughts for Disciples:
It would be an immoral thing to forgive a person who did not say he or she was sorry…I cannot forgive my enemies and remain just unless they cease to be my enemies and give proof of their sorrow, which must be expressed in repentance. I have to remain steadfastly true to God’s justice. There are times when it would be easier to say “Oh, well, it does not matter. I forgive you,” but Jesus insists that the uttermost farthing must be paid. The love of God is based on justice and holiness, and I must forgive on the same basis.
One of Chamber’s biggest faults in this line of thinking is that forgiveness means dismissing the act you are forgiving. I disagree. The very act of forgiving, whether the person asks for it or not, says “It mattered. It hurt me. But I need to move on and not carry that hurt with me anymore.” If it didn’t matter, it wouldn’t hurt.
Where is my justice, as a forgiven sinner? My punishment is served, done, completed. My sin – not in part, but the whole – is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more.
My conviction that creeps up every Monday night at small group? It’s this conviction that although I’ve been wronged, I should be the one to be the better person. To take the first step. And I’m afraid that in taking that first step, I will be saying “Oh, well, it does not matter. I forgive you.”
What I’m listening to: Death Cab for Cutie’s Plans