Forgiveness—it’s a little Fuzzy

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On Friday, May 21, 2010 at 2:03 AM

Of all the theological issues of the Bible I must say that forgiveness is the one I find most difficult. That seems odd even to me, I have read books on the subject, I have scoured the Bible on the subject and even heard good sermons but still there is a piece of me that has some struggles here. I read a story the other day that reminded me of my struggles.

Before we go too far let me tell you that if it were just about God and his forgiveness that would be no problem, but it is where people come into play that it gets difficult. Fuzzy Zoeller was a terrific golfer in his prime. He was popular among many golf fans and was known for his sense of humor and quick wit. It was his quick wit that got him into trouble.

Nine years ago he made an off color joke about Tiger Woods that offended many people of color. It caused a great uproar in the public arena, to this day when people think of Fuzzy Zoeller they think of that statement. I must admit it crosses my mind as well.

I found this statement in a recent interview with him about the incident, “Well, it’s been the worst thing I’ve gone through in my entire life. What happened to me as a result? I got death threats against me, Diane, my kids. Even threats against the house. I received hundreds of terrible letters, almost all of them anonymous, and they’re still coming—I got one this morning. It’s been more than nine years now, and it still hasn’t blown over. If people wanted me to feel the same hurt I projected on others, I’m here to tell you they got their way. I’ve cried many times. I’ve apologized countless times for words said in jest that just aren’t a reflection of who I am. I have hundreds of friends, including people of color, who will attest to that. Still, I’ve come to terms with the fact that this incident will never, ever go away.”

Golf Digest August 2006

Where to start and keep this short? First let me inform you that I am not here to defend what he said but to learn some lessons from the event. Here is one lesson that has little to do with forgiveness. Be very careful what you say, what may be innocent to you may hurt others and Christ would always want us to keep others best interest at heart. Words can be very harmful and I bet if you asked Fuzzy he would tell you once they are said that is it, you can’t get them back no matter how badly you would love to.

Now to forgiveness, and lets assume for the sake of this devotional that Fuzzy has asked God for forgiveness. If he has then God has forgiven him, it is hard to believe that God can forgive so easily but he does. And why is it hard to believe God can forgive so easily, because we are so crummy at it.

Let’s look for a moment at the offended here. It is nine years later and someone is still taking the time to write out a hate letter to someone they probably don’t even know. I will not for one second try to put myself in the position of the hurt. I will not make light of that pain or any other for that matter. But I will say if nine years later they are writing letters they have not begun to heal from it and they have more than likely have become bitter. That is where a lack of forgiveness leads. It leads the offended into a permanent captivity that God would never want.

You spend you time worrying about revenge instead of getting on with the next steps of your life. You spend your time writing letters or being harsh toward others and who does it hurt? Does it hurt those who inflicted the pain, no; lack of forgiveness hurts those who become bitter and angry. You want revenge? Look to God who says ‘vengeance is mine says the Lord’. Leave it in His hands.

Speaking of revenge that is where forgiveness gets us doesn’t it. We want justice for those who hurt us or those we love. This always gets my attention. I wonder for one second who out there has not hurt someone? Who out there has not said hurting words, hated, or committed some grievous sin in the eyes of others? Yet when we deal with our sin we want mercy, but when we deal with others who have sinned against us we want justice. I wonder if those who have written hate letters and made threats against the Zoeller family have looked within their own hearts and lives. When you do that it gives you a whole different perspective on forgiveness. I am very glad God does not give me what I deserve.

What about Fuzzy who says he knows this event in his life will never go away. I think he is right, if you have offended others, keeping in mind that first and foremost our sin is against God. Know this people do not have to forgive you; you can not make that happen. Though you might love for that to happen many times if not most the time in people’s eyes you are still the offender, you always will be. Remember what I said about people, they are not too good at forgiveness.

There is only one way to survive, look upward. Do the right things, ask for forgiveness, start with God, move to those you have hurt and then keep looking up. In the end, when this life is over for us, we will stand before a God that is far better at forgiveness than we are.

For us forgiveness is kind of fuzzy, we want it but have trouble giving it. But it becomes much clearer when seen through the loving sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Things to think about:

  1. God’s forgiveness is complete. People and what they think or do can not change that.
  2. Harboring a grudge is harmful to your spiritual and physical life.
  3. Looking inward instead of outward helps us to better forgive others.
  4. People who know the grace of God should be the best at forgiveness.
  5. Real forgiveness is unattainable without the help and power of the Holy Spirit. We can not do it on our own.

Scripture: Colossians 3:13, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Matthew 6:14&15, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, we come to you humble and grateful for your forgiveness. We thank you for the blood of Christ that washes away our sin. Help us to work through our emotions and to forgive others where they have sinned against us or those we love. We know we can not do this without your help so we seek it. We ask all these things in the precious name of Jesus Christ, amen.

all simple/truths are written by richard harris

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