Monday, January 26, 2015

Faux Forgiveness, Faux Relationships

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.  –St Paul


Not pedantically nor Pharisaically

Not accusingly or condemningly

Not condescendingly nor contemptuously

But with the gentleness of a loving spirit, we are to go to the individual and do our all to see him reconciled and restored.  

Of course, when the “sin” is against me, I encounter a number of challenges.

Do I, A, give him the cold shoulder and cast him out of my universe; or, B, Do I go and give him both barrels of my anger and hurt? Hmmmm. That would be C: Neither.

Sure. There are cases where I am left with no alternative other than keeping the offending person at a great distance. This step, however, doesn’t come until well after I have done my best to see the individual restored and for us to be reconciled. Rejecting the offender without any opportunity for the giving and receiving of forgiveness makes me an offender. But, in the heat of the hurt, it feels so reasonable and righteous to skip over seeking to sort things out doesn’t it.

Why is it that we so easily throw people and relationships away?

Sometimes it is a case where we are fearful of seeking reconciliation because to do so leaves us vulnerable to more pain. So, we silently hold on to our offenses with their accompanying accusations and condemnations, ready to hurl them in the offender’s face, if he gets too close. Or we place him in the category of Someone I Use to Know, bury the pain of the offense, and walk away, as if that individual never existed. And in doing such things, we now are breaking the laws of love, which says we are to drop everything and go seek restoration. Yes, love does make us vulnerable but it is only with such vulnerability that touching the soul of another and being reconciled is possible.

Another challenge is holding on to our rights. “I have a right to my boundaries.” “I have a right to justice being served.” The rub here is that, if all he encounters is my Rights (aka righteous indignation), the possibility for reconciliation dwindles to almost nothing. But if he primarily meets my love, my commitment to his welfare, my gentleness, the possibilities for restoration increases, exponentially.

Some people choose to circumvent these and other challenges by granting a faux forgiveness. There is no working through the substance of the offense, no seeking to get at the root of the conflict, no bearing of the souls: only a kind of Get Out of Jail Free card that changes nothing and no one, that brings no reconciliation, healing or restoration. How could it be otherwise when the light of truth was never turned on?

Faux forgiveness creates faux relationships. Not exactly what St John had in mind when he wrote, “Love one another,” and, “Walk in the light (with one another) as He is in the light.”

When an individual sins, his repentance must be to the depths of the offense. Light must shine all the way down into the depths of the darkness. Asking for or giving forgiveness for knifing someone in the back as if it were merely a matter of stepping on his toes won’t cut it. In this case, the offended and the offender then walk away knowing nothing changed. And they will continue relating accordingly. Which is to say, not really.  

I think the key to getting all this right, to fully obeying the laws of love in such situations, is seeing that forgiveness is not the goal: restoration is. Once we set our sights on this, we will not be tempted to offer or receive a cheap imitation of forgiveness, because such will never achieve genuine restoration.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2015

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

When Spiritual Offerings Are Contemptuous

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.


Therefore, if in the days of Jesus, the Jew was to drop the lamb that was about to be sacrificed on an altar and, first, go deal with an offended brother, how much more so is a Christian to walk away even from the Lord’s Supper to do the same?

Therefore, if we know an individual has something against us and we still go ahead and make our offering to God, without any attempt to be reconciled, our offering will be held in divine contempt.

Therefore, “But I didn’t do anything wrong,” is a non-starter. How can you know for sure, if you don’t have a conversation about his offense with you? Even the most mature can be deceived. If you are correct, however, you will have an opportunity to help your brother grow in wisdom and maturity  … that is, as long as you don’t approach the conversation in a spirit of self-righteousness.

Therefore, our spiritual exercises and offerings are never to be used as a kind of religious excuse for not dealing with an offended brother or sister, a la, “I can’t deal with that right now, I am busy serving Jesus.”

Therefore, we cannot use our spiritual offerings as brownie points to be weighed against broken relationships, whereby, if we get enough points, God will overlook our failures to maintain the laws of love toward others.  

Therefore, if we are to drop everything and go seek reconciliation with someone who has something against us, we are also to do the same if we have an offense with a brother or sister. Sitting around haughtily waiting for the offender to come to us demonstrates a severe lack of love for and commitment to the *alleged offender’s welfare.


If you love me, keep my commandments.

-- Jesus

* “Alleged.” Did I break the laws of love toward you or not? Simply because you are offended, does not make me “wrong.” Your feelings are not God’s objective standards for Right Behavior. Maybe you are overly sensitive or overreacted or simply misunderstood. If this is the case, your hurt still matters but it is on a different plane than my having “sinned” against you.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Boomerang Effect

For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.  --Jesus

Bearing grudges is a lot easier than seeking to attain or maintain a healthy relationship. Holding on to a grudge allows me to excommunicate the offending individual from my presence—Until he pays the uttermost farthing!--thus keeping me far away from all the messiness and turmoil that comes with seeking to keep the laws of love toward some bozo. So, not only am I free from all of his aggravating and painful behavior, but I get to feel morally superior to him, as well. How cool is this?

On second thought, however, we do need to consider the boomerang effect.

Me to Bozo: I cast thee away from the sun of my righteousness!

God: What’d he do?

Me: O. Hey Lord. Good to see you. He broke my rules.

God: Your rules?

Me: Uh … right. He broke Your laws of love and must pay the consequences so he can learn not to do this anymore. Keepin’ it real, Lord.

God: So that’s how you want to play?

Me: Excuse me?

God: No, I don’t think I will. It’s that whole “in the way you judge others you shall be judged” and “do unto others” deal.

Me: Wait just a minute. This is different, isn’t it? God? God? Where’d You go?

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2015

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Adopt An Old Guy

A few weeks ago an old acquaintance shot me an email on my birthday, asking me, now that I’m “certifiably old,” what wisdom could I impart to him who is “still so very young.” The first thing that popped into my head was to write back, “I’m only 62. I’ll let you know…when I am actually old.”  The second thought was the memory of my father’s last words, as he lie dying: “Fear God, keep His Commandments, and take care of your mother.” The third thought was, “Wow, when dad was younger his list would have been a lot longer!” And that’s the thing about growing older: it changes your perspective on what really matters.

Consider these differences in perspective and the value of making such distinctions in our day-to-day lives:

The Urgency of The Immediate v What is Important
The skirmish in front of you is usually a distraction from the front lines of the battle for the soul: yours and theirs. Be clear about your priorities: it makes it easier to say no to all those urgent requests that keep you from what and whom you need to be giving yourself.

The Temporal v The Eternal / Things v Values
Spend time contemplating the answers to this question: What is of eternal value? Then ask yourself where you are investing most of your resources.

What Works v What is Virtuous
Making a stand for what is True, Good, Just, Beautiful, and etc., is well and good but only if you do so virtuously. Do you want to Be Right or to Be Love? How you go about making your stands and achieving your goals is as important as the goal itself: probably more so.

Control v Letting Go / Fear v Faith
Newsflash: The only thing you can control is yourself; other than this, control is an illusion and is fear-based. “Let go and let God…” is not some trite saying but the incarnation of wisdom and faith. In every arena where you are seeking to control circumstances and others so as to achieve your outcomes at whatever the cost, you are manifesting a lack of faith and wisdom. Deal with it before it deals with you.

Side Bar: One of the blessings of and life-lessons from parenting 5 children, is that, early on, you are outnumbered and outgunned, so you learn the futility of fighting for control and, rather, to trust God with the greatest treasures of your heart.

Judging Others v Minding Your Own Business
The amount of time and energy some people waste on seeking to sort out the lives of others is astounding. Did he ask for your feedback? Did she come and beg you for your counsel? Did they bring their appeals to you, seeking for your wisdom? No? Then heed the words of St Paul: “We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.” If you have time to run around poking your nose into the lives of others, then you have time to get a second job or to work on sorting out your own life, both of which would be far more productive for you.

Eternal Youth v Growing in Grace
Compare the amount of time you spend on your physical well-being and adornment to what is spent on the means for growing in grace. No. I’m serious.  Make a list. Check it twice. So much of what we do for our bodies today falls more within the category of seeking eternal youth (vanity) than it does an exercise in stewardship.

Here’s the choice before you: You can spend the next 30 or 40 years painfully learning the importance of making such distinctions or you can adopt an Old Guy or Gal and do your all to drain them of every ounce of wisdom they possess. You don’t have to wait to be ancient before you have the wisdom of an ancient one: all you need to do is begin following their wisdom. Trust me: it will save you from so much heartache and wasted time.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2015