Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Forgiveness and Patience

We saw in the last blog posting that forgiveness is not forgetting. We saw from 1 Corinthians 13 that forgiveness is choosing not to use the pain of past hurts as a weapon today or in the future. This ties in closely with another description of love found in 1 Corinthians 13. The very first descriptive phrase about love in this chapter is this:

"Love is patient!"

This word, "patient", describes someone who has been wronged, has the power and right to retaliate, but chooses not to do so. In other words - they forgive.

I think a great human example of this in Scripture surrounds the Christmas story. Mary is espoused to be Josephs' wife. This means that they were legally married but were not allowed to consummate that relationship sexually. In fact, in the very conservative area of Nazareth it is doubtful that they would have even been allowed to have been alone together. So imagine the surprise on Joseph's face when he learns that Mary is pregnant. I guarantee that his first thought was not, "I bet this is some kind of virgin conception."

Think about it. In Joseph's mind there was only one plausible answer - Mary had wronged him in the deepest of ways. And according to Old Testament law, Joseph could have called for Mary to be stoned. He had been wronged (or so it seemed) and he had the power and the right to retaliate. But what did Joseph do? He chose instead to put Mary away quietly. he decided to end the espousal in a way in which the reason didn't even have to be made public. Joseph exhibited a love that was patient. That, to me, is a beautiful picture of forgiveness.

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