Something curious interrupted my mindless scrolling through the internet the other day. Through the layered pages of words and pictures, I saw this;
Okay woah! At first, I was a little cheesed off. I’m not going to lie. I mean, I was annoyed and I retracted way back into my chair, drew my neck back a bit, and tilted my head. Looking at these words thinking, “Excuse me?” But dragging out the word like, “excuuuse – me?” You know attitude.
“The sin that is most destructive in my life right now, is the one I am most defensive about?” “That’s a bit harsh Mr. Keller, why would I defend my sin? That’s ridiculous, I don’t defend my sin, Tim; you are just being a bit out there, yep, that’s it. Who even are you, I have no idea? Meh!”
And the tiny voice within, the very gentle voice replied. “He has got a point, Jo.” And I exhaled the tension “huh?” So I read the words over and the quiet voice returned; “weren’t you just a bit defensive reading that?”
Well, I was, so I started to reflect on my reaction to these provocative words and inspected Tim Keller’s thought from the memory of my own experiences.
I was reminded of a situation that happened recently which resulted in the falling out with a friend. The process was uncomfortable and I felt hurt. As I began to consider these events in light of these words, the trusted, gentle voice lightly revealed the word “unforgiveness.”
“Oh! you must be joking with me!?” “Unforgiveness? Can’t Be.” I felt really annoyed and started to reel off all the reasons I had for why I felt that forgiveness toward this person was not necessary for this situation.
As I write this I am smiling in amazement to myself at how brilliant God is at teaching us things he wants us to understand and how funny we can be as human beings. I am grateful for grace.
There were plenty of reasons why I wasn’t forgiving this person. I justified my unforgiveness in a number of efficient ways and I convinced myself (and probably other people involved) that forgiveness for this person was not necessary for this situation. That the other person had the issue and so my excuses came…
I have been asking myself an interesting question lately, though. I have been wondering if there might be a dim distinction between my justification and my excuse? Do I sometimes try to defend my reasons? Honestly, I didn’t want to forgive this person. This was my sin, unforgiveness. Was I trying to hide the excuse that I didn’t want to forgive the person under a seemingly convincing reason why forgiveness wasn’t necessary for this situation? My excuse; a good enough reason.
I believe we are called to forgive others and I believe unforgiveness is a sinful attitude or decision. I understand that each of us is grown in this and we develop at different paces. For me, it has been a slow process. Here is a good reason why forgiveness isn’t necessary right now. But that was my excuse for the real reason that I didn’t want to forgive because I find forgiveness hard to do.
I agree that Mr. Keller really does have a point. In this situation, I was so defensive about my reasons why, that I missed the opportunity to work through the conflict and reconcile the friendship. In this situation, I can see how the sin we might be most defensive about is the sin that might be most destructive in our lives.
What are the real reasons behind the excuses? Let’s talk about them with one another, with our people’s, because I know we are not alone in this.