Forgive But Redesign the System
|We should be happy to get an opportunity to forgive others.
Jesus said that as we forgive, then we would be forgiven. That is
in the Lordís Prayer. It says as we forgive the debts or
trespasses of others towards us, we would be forgiven.
Because of the way human nature is, all of us have sins that we
do not see. We justify our sins while we rarely justify the sins of
others. We rationalize our sins while we usually do not
rationalize the sins of others. That is because we understand
why we did whatever we did, so we are easy on ourselves. We
do not understand why others do what they do. So we tend to
overlook our sins, which we understand and tend to patronize
and pardon, but hold others to justice since we do not fully
understand why they did things. This is natural.
We should always take those opportunities we have to forgive
the sins of others so that the sins we are unaware of in
ourselves or have minimized may find some mercy in the eyes of
When we forgive others, we should cease to reject them and not
hold a grudge. But when we forgive others, we should realize
we have stumbled upon a weakness in someoneís character. It
is up to us to design or redesign some preventive system to deal
with that weakness in character. The present situation is not
working right. Therefore do something redemptive and
intelligent such as designing or redesigning the situation.
If you have forgiven the person at fault, you now love or accept
them again. If you really love them or have a serious concern,
you will try to design or redesign a method to save them from
themselves. Do not be so naTve as to believe an apology to you,
even a sincere one is going to change the flaw in their character
that caused the problem. We are working with deeper things.
For example a wealthy man had a son who wasted a great deal
of money. The father of course forgave the son, but he did not
hand out any more large amounts of money. He put the sonís
money in a trust fund whose trustees were money wise.
On the other hand a man had a trusted employee who embezzled
from him. The employee returned the stolen money. The boss
forgave him but he transferred the employee to another
department that did not handle money. Do not think forgiveness
means knowingly putting yourself at the same risk from a
defective character again. God is trying to encourage us to be
good people showing grace but not lunatics.
A mother had her son lie to her about not doing his homework.
Of course she forgave her son, but she also set up a system to
to deal with this weakness in his character. She personally
reviewed and quizzed on all the homework that went out from
him. The boy graduated magna cum mother .He also learned
over the years how to handle his academic work better, though
studying he never liked. But he dealt with it better.
I knew a business man who was handsome, charming and had
great appeal to women. The flaw in his character was he did not
understand anything about women. He was the dupe of any
attractive devious woman. He was left alone on a too long
business trip. The ultimately to be expected happened. His wife
found out by accident. She eventually forgave him.
She had felt she could not leave the children for these trips.
Now she began going on the longer business trips. She got
Aunt Mary to stay with the children. They were not ruined by the
motherís absence but did better at the camps they went to later.
They did not become as homesick as their friends since they
had learned how to survive without their parents for a time.
You should forgive if you can find the grace. But there is no
sense in raving and ranting as you forgive. A character defect is
not going to be cured by a lick, an angry promise and a scene.
Where there is a character defect, you need to try to save
yourself and the person forgiven from the defect as best you
can, This means some sort of redesigned structure that will help
to contain the problem. Theologically speaking, you are working
to redeem or make better along with Christ in doing this.
Alcoholics Anonymous is famous for this. They have twelve
steps. One of them is to learn to involve God in the actions in
their lives that help those with a weakness cope with their
problems. Nor should anyone think that to have a weakness is
anything to be ashamed of. Not to deal with it is what you
should be ashamed of. Everyone has some weakness.
If you need to forgive someone in your life, be sure to ask God
to help you forgive graciously. Ask that you do not hold a
grudge or be self-righteous. Ask God to help you and or others
design some system that will help save the person you have
forgiven from the weakness you must forgive. This may take
prayer and walking with God on your part. Or you may have to
redesign a system for yourself to deal with a weakness in
Of course things work out best if both the forgiven and the
forgiver work with God. But that decision has to be made by
both people. If only one is a believer, that is not possible. That
also does not mean nothing in the way of progress can be made.
It just means itís harder for one to accomplish. But if you have
Christ, much is possible. More than this world dreams of.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation. For comments or corrections
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