Have you written your Kill List? .
When I finished writing out my own list, I wrote a brief description of what each offender had done. I looked carefully at the details of the offenses. The verbs of what people had done. Rejected. Betrayed. Ignored. Cut off. Abused. As I shook my head and mulled over these actions, I had the realization that nearly everything on my list that I had identified as an offense towards me, I had done to other people, in varying degrees. Or I had done those things to God. I wrote: I have ignored God. I have done the opposite of what I knew to be true. I have betrayed people. I’ve cut off God before. I have hurt others because of my choices. I have been inconsiderate and abusive. I don’t even know the extent of hurt I have caused others. I have taken advantage of other people. I have taken people for granted. I took for granted the love of God, the love he was offering. I’ve acted ignorantly and with prejudice. In so many ways, I’ve done all the things I am holding in my heart now against others. A few days later I realized there was someone else I hadn’t forgiven. Myself. And not realizing I needed to forgive myself for various offenses, I’d spent time punishing myself.
“But I can’t forgive them!”
- They haven’t acknowledged what they’ve done or asked for forgiveness.
- What they’ve done is unforgivable.
- I am justified in my unforgiveness because of what they’ve done.
All of these arguments are understandable. Yet, you don’t deserve the bitterness that will destroy you. As a follower of Christ, when you don’t forgive, you are saying the sacrifice of Jesus was not enough. When Jesus died, part of the purpose was to cover ALL of the sins and evil deeds of humanity. That means anyone, anywhere. His sacrifice is what enables us to forgive others the way that he forgives us. When we don’t forgive, we aren’t accepting him fully. We are saying, THIS sin Jesus–what they did– is beyond you. Too big for you. It can’t be covered by the sacrifice you made, so I’m going to handle the retaliation by holding on to it. I’m going to see to it that this person is punished in whatever way I can. We magnify what people have done to us and remain locked in a cycle of unforgiveness and hurt. We set up altars and shrines for our hurt and empower these offenses because we are angry with God. Angry that he didn’t intervene or stop it from happening. Fundamentally, we distrust his ability to take care of us when we never fully put our lives in his hands. We decide that we are more powerful and we have to protect ourselves. We may eventually seek counseling or outside help, but we conflate God with our offenders. Is God on your list?
Read the first part in the series on unforgiveness.