BEING GRACIOUS IN THE MIDST OF
BY: SUNNY ORLY COFFMAN
SEPTEMBER 25, 2003
Much is taught in Christian circles about the necessity of repentance, and rightly so. “God loves a humble and contrite heart.” An occasion this week caused me to do a bit of reflecting on this subject and I’ve come to the conclusion that there is as much responsibility resting on the shoulders of the one offended as there is on the one responsible for the offense. I’ve seen honest, good-intending persons go to someone they have offended and confess their sin and asked to be forgiven; only to have their repentance treated as something of NO IMPORTANCE – and these observations have given me occasion to gather my thoughts on the subject.
The immediate action that causes all this to rise to the surface in this season was an occurrence this week that happened to a close friend of mine. My friend made a short trip back to his hometown for the first time in a year or two. A man he once considered a close friend had been used very negatively in his life years ago. On this trip, the two men’s paths crossed and the “offender” came to my friend and took the opportunity to confess his negative actions from so long ago and to make it plain that he realized today what an offense he had caused and told my friend that he wanted to repent for his actions and to asked my friend to please forgive him of his improprieties. .
When my friend retold this story to me, he related that he was quick to simply say: “Oh, that’s okay. It was forgiven when it was done.” But I made a suggestion to him that it was very important he allow the person to speak the things that they have done – to purge themselves, if you will.. Yes, this man had now seen how very ungracious, thoughtless, destructive, and demeaning his actions were toward my friend. And his coming forward and addressing it was a very important step. But when the person who has been offended extends forgiveness, it also seems necessary to be sure the one asking for and extending of grace knows that each and every offense has been thoroughly forgiven. Somehow being specific and acknowledging the offenses and verbalizing specific forgiveness in each situation clears the air and removes any possibility for further mental torment – guilt or condemnation.
As I am putting this incident into words, I keep hearing “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.”
I’m continuing to believe even more that the “speaking forth” the specific forgiveness in each situation is very necessary.
To just pass off the act of repentance as nothing of importance is an offence in itself – as though the person offended really doesn’t see the act of contrition as sincere or necessary and I believe the possibility exists for the person that initiated the offense will continue carrying guilt – or at least remorse. And, I do have to say a person that does not fully verbalize his forgiveness toward the one asking may just be carrying some unforgiveness himself.
GRACIOUS IN THE MIDST OF REPENTANCE [Sunny Orly Coffman] 9-25-03 1