Last blog post was getting pretty long so I stopped. But I had a few more thoughts while I was writing it.
As mentioned a few days ago, I recently read The Hardest Thing to Do by Penelope Wilcock. It’s about some monks and this particular volume covers their struggle to forgive another monk who seeks refuge with them, who had be very callous and cruel toward their former abbot. There are lots of other struggles, offenses, and need for forgiveness in the day to day interaction as well. The structure of their society requires that they immediately face the person and sincerely apologize and seek forgiveness. Hurts and issues are not given time to fester or become a root of bitterness.
At one point, Brother Tom has hurt Father Francis deeply and when he realizes it he apologizes and asks for forgiveness, which is given of course.
Brother Tom wondered how other people managed – ordinary people outside the monastery walls who tried to muddle along without this discipline of humble contrition to heal the wounds made by human carelessness.
The need to ask forgiveness and to do so quickly, sincerely, and in person is no longer recognized as a need. And the art of giving forgiveness is also lost these days. Not that it’s ever been easy, but it’s much too easy to not ask to be forgiven. Or perhaps to not recognize the true offense given so that you can really ask for that forgiveness that is needed.
We also aren’t use to recognizing true repentance and then offering true forgiveness that doesn’t hold a grudge or bring the offense back up. I look forward to the next year as my Circle spends time studying Unpacking Forgiveness.
And because Paul Tripp is still so timely (or just so right) I have to point to his blog post from Friday.
no change takes place in a relationship that doesn’t begin with confession. The problem for many of us is that we look at confession as a burden, when it’s actually a grace.
He continues to expound how it is a grace to know right from wrong. We have to see where we are wrong before we can make it right. It is a grace to be shown that and to have the heart to receive it.
It is a grace to even understand the concept of indwelling sin – to understand that the problem is inside me, not some external problem.
It is a grace to have a conscience that works right. The conscience can be deadened. Or it can be trained to be in tune with the Holy Spirit and the commands of God. It is a grace when we are sensitive to and grieved by what we do to hurt others.
Grace is the only thing that shields us from self-righteousness. When we can see our own need for salvation, for help, and stop thinking we are so much better than the other party in the relationship, we can hope for change.
Our confession should be propelled by deep appreciation and gratitude toward God, who has made it possible for us not to be afraid any longer of being exposed. Because of what Jesus has done for us, we don‘t have to hide or excuse our wrongs. We’re freed from posing as if we’re perfect, when in our heart of hearts we know we’re not. We can stare problems in the face with hope and courage, because Christ has made real, lasting, personal, and relational change possible.