I just bought a shirt that says “Happy Camper” on it. I hope to be wearing it as you read this. Earlier this summer I was camping with friends. Every year we have a campfire conversation that centers on spiritual things. This year I asked the question, “How do you forgive?” But I wasn’t asking the general question. I was asking “How do you forgive”—personally…when you’ve been wronged…when there’s no reason in the world to forgive but every reason in the kingdom to do so. I knew each person had been wounded, mostly by people in the church. So I wanted to know their experiences with the act of forgiving. I’d been blindsided by a situation that had devastated me, and I was struggling.
One woman said she prays every day for the person. Somehow in praying for the person who had wronged her, she reaches a point of surrender. One of the men said that twice he’d gone to the offenders and asked forgiveness for his own resentment. Another said that the choice to forgive had come a long time before the experience of forgiveness. One by one they shared...
I came away from the evening with new ways of looking at forgiveness. I realized again that forgiving is hard work, and often more of a process than we might hope. Even more, I was deeply touched and encouraged that each of these people were quietly pursuing forgiveness as an active part of his or her Christian life. I saw how making the choice to forgive had added depth and character to my friends’ lives. And I felt enriched and challenged, stirred up to love and good works (Hebrews 20:24) and ready to forgive again…and again.
"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." (Colossians 3:12-14 NIV)
"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." (Matthew 18:21,22)