Sunday, April 22, 2007


What is the biggest, ugliest thing you have forgiven?

What is the biggest, ugliest thing for which you have been forgiven?

Not an easy thing, is it? Even when it's something not so big or ugly.

Today in church I learned about forgiveness. Not for the first time, of course. And I'm sure not for the last. I don't think we will ever get a full grasp of the concept of forgiveness.

The speaker had gone to Rwanda for a visit. (Our church is actually a Rwandan church, but that is a story for another time.) She spoke of her experiences there.

I'm sure you are aware of the terrible genocide that has happened there. The movie Hotel Rwanda gives a glimpse of the terror that took place.

This lady visited sites of genocide. Memorials, piles of bodies.

The next day she was introduced to a beautiful woman. She is a Tutsi. Six of her children and her husband had been murdered by Hutus during the slaughters. She had escaped with two of her children.

As she told the tale of her escape and loss another man sat near her. When her story was finished, he got the attention of the interpreter so that he could tell his story.

"I am the man who killed her family." He said.

This man, this Hutu man, had helped this Tutsi lady rebuild her home. This entire community was made up of Hutus and Tutsis living together and working together to bring reconciliation.

What made this possible? Only true repentance and true forgiveness.

I have never had to forgive someone for murdering my family. I don't know if I could do it. In fact I know that in myself I could not. The only thing that makes true forgiveness possible is the overwhelming love of Christ by which I have been forgiven all things. All things, ugly, big, small, terrible, or simply annoying things.

What is the biggest, ugliest thing for which I have been forgiven? Well, I don't want to tell you. But I do know it has been forgiven. Completely.

What is the biggest, ugliest thing I have had to forgive? Well, it wasn't the murder of my family. Not even close to being that big and ugly. If this beautiful woman could forgive so much, and if I have been forgiven so much, how can I even hesitate to forgive those who hurt me?


  1. for•give: (fərˈgɪv) verb, -gave, -giv•en, -giv•ing.
    –verb (used with object)
    1. to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.
    2. to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).
    3. to grant pardon to (a person).
    4. to cease to feel resentment against: to forgive one's enemies.
    to cancel an indebtedness or liability of: to forgive the interest owed on a loan.
    –verb (used without object)
    6. to pardon an offense or an offender.

    rec•on•cil•i•a•tion: ˌ(rɛk ənˌsɪl iˈeɪ ʃən) –noun
    1. an act of reconciling or the state of being reconciled.
    2. the process of making consistent or compatible.

    Is the really a difference between forgiving someone of an offence and reconciling with that person? Some might say no, there is no difference. Many, far too many, live their entire lives having forgiving someone of a wrong yet all the while being cut off from the wrong-doer.

    It is not always easy to forgive, but I argue although forgiveness is hard, a harder process is reconciliation. It only takes one can forgive, but it takes two (or more) to reconcile.

  2. Addendum to the previous post: The recognizing that forgiveness is not always enough; reconcilation is an additional, higher goal.

  3. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing because we can not do it in our own strength, but through God's. Great story.


I love to hear your thoughts!