Forgiveness: Scooping up the Poop

Dog walkers in my area carry bags for the poop. Basically, they’re picking up someone’s mess. Granted, there’s some involuntariness on the dog’s part. One also hopes to avoid the ire of offended homeowners. But it’s a smelly mess they pick up and carry home.

People’s offenses are poops. Like dogs, some are little piles—almost unnoticeable. Some need a backhoe and dump truck to dispose of them. For those with divorced parents these offenses tend to fall into four categories:

  1. Things that were said or done to us and shouldn’t have.
  2. Things that weren’t said or done for us and should have.
  3. Things that are still said or done and shouldn’t be.
  4. Things that aren’t said or done that should be.

Unfortunately, (and understandably in many cases) we often lack the desire to place these offenses in the bag of forgiveness and dispose of them at the cross.

Refusing to handle the mess

Forgiveness is, “To give up resentment against or the desire to punish; stop being angry with, pardon.”* “Giving up” our day in court is hard. So we carry our sachet of poop with us—sometimes for years.

Why? We have misconceptions about forgiveness like these:

  • Forgiveness requires trusting the individual – not true. If a person steals from you and asks forgiveness, you can forgive them. However, it would be foolish to leave money around when they are visiting. Forgiveness is given. Trust is earned.
  • Forgiving requires reconciliation with the person – not true. Some people are toxic, deceased, unreachable, or dangerous. The Apostle Paul wrote, If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men (Rom. 12:18). This is the goal, but not always possible or safe. Godly counsel is required here.
  • Forgiveness is denying the offense – not true. You have to forgive something or it’s not forgiveness.
  • Forgiveness means they get off the hook – not true. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Rom. 12:19). It’s God’s job to exact payment for their offenses against you, not yours.

Forgiving the poop

Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Being home with loved ones due to Covid has provided opportunities for forgiveness or unforgiveness.

  • Pray for God to reveal any unforgiveness in your heart
  • Review the scriptures that teach about forgiveness.
  • Check out our resource page for good books on this topic.

[Lord,] Give us each day the food we need, and forgive us our sins,as we forgive those who sin against us.”

Luke 11:3-4 NLT

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