07 November 2012

Twelfth Understanding


12. We are called toward a generous, self-giving lifestyle. In order for that to happen, we try not to hoard our time, talents, money or gifts; developing the habit of giving things away. In the Lindisfarne Community we encourage members not to be limited by the tithe, to be more expansive in our thinking about generosity; listening for the gentle promptings of the Spirit. We are often surprised how giving God wants us to be. We seek, too, to be generous with the faults and mistakes of others. Forgiveness is seventy times seven — in truth there is no end to it.

A lot can be said about this Understanding but I want to focus on the last two sentences —

We seek, too, to be generous with the faults and mistakes of others. Forgiveness is seventy times seven — in truth there is no end to it.

I like the way we move from “giving” to “forgiving.” To be truly giving people, we must first start with forgiveness. We must extend mercy and love to everyone.

I’ve often heard people say we should only forgive people who ask for it. That there’s no such thing as “free” forgiveness.

But I’m reminded of Jesus on the cross.

At one point, while people were still hurling accusations against him, he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing” (Luke 23.34; CEB).

Nobody was asking for forgiveness but Jesus extended it anyway.

And then there’s Stephen.

In a scene very similar to that of Jesus in the Gospels (Acts 6.8-15; cf. Matthew 26.47-61), Stephen is drug off to the council and false witnesses are brought in to accuse him. He is found guilty and taken out of the city to be stoned (a truly gruesome thing; a modern equivalent is seen in the movie The Stoning of Soraya M). In the middle of his execution, just like Christ, Stephen said, “Lord, don’t hold this sin against them” (Acts 7.60; CEB).

Nobody was asking for forgiveness but Jesus extended it anyway.

To me, this shows that our giving must come from the same place. There shouldn’t be a need for the Other to even ask - our giving should flow naturally out of the very depth of us.

Of course, this isn’t easy. There are too many times that I just don’t feel like being generous - not with my money, or time, or talents, or even grace and mercy, let alone forgiveness. Sometimes I just flat out am hurt and wounded and I don’t feel like trying to be like Christ in those moments.

So, I say this to myself as well...this is what Christ expects from those who follow him. We are to give all of ourselves to others. All. That is what’s expected. It’s hard. It hurts. People will treat us like garbage and less than them. But that’s what we are supposed to do.

Forgive without being asked.



~~~
In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC

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