We humans mess up all the time. We hurt each other, we let each other down. Usually it is unintentional, but sometimes it is deliberate, but then there are the inevitable feelings of remorse.
But remorse and forgiveness are two different things. Remorse does not restore people to relationship again, it merely acknowledges a stressful situation. But forgiveness, now that is a powerful thing!
You see, –
We cannot earn it,
We cannot buy it.
We can withhold it,
we can receive it,
And we can give it away.
When you have been offended or hurt by someone, you can decide to not forgive them, but then all that happens is that your heart shrivels and you become bitter inside. We think by withholding forgiveness that we are punishing the offender, but really we only injure ourselves, and those we tell about it. And, our unforgiveness puts us at odds with our Lord.
Once I asked my step mother to forgive me for something I had done that angered her. She said no. What was freeing, however, in this situation was that it did not matter what her answer was. It was my responsibility to seek forgiveness. If she withheld it, so be it. It did not matter because God had already forgiven me for my part in the situation. My job was to ask. Her responsibility was to extend, which would set her free as well. She held on to her anger and became just a meaner and angrier person. She thought she had won in this situation…. But really, she lost. She lost the joy of knowing how to forgive, and how to make peace. Peace – that elusive thing that the world seeks and cannot attain, it comes only from the Prince of Peace.
He renews us.
He empowers us to go on, even after we have messed up.