WAT? John Wayne was wrong?
A reader sent the following colorful email the other day regarding forgiveness written by one of my heroes John Wayne. Mr. Williamson, someone recently sent me what he said was a quote from John Wayne that might fit your stress in your recent Word for the Day entry. “You should forgive your enemy but never forget the bastard’s name!” Hopefully it should bring laughter to you to reduce your stress. I did get a chuckle out of it but fear the “Duke” was wrong about this one.
As most readers of this column know I am a big admirer of the famed intellectual and former atheist turned devout Christian C.S. Lewis. Recently I read his take on forgiveness:
When it comes to a question of our forgiving other people, it is partly the same and partly different. It is the same because, here also, forgiving does not mean excusing. Many people seem to think it does. They think that if you ask them to forgive someone who has cheated or bullied them you are trying to make out that there was really no cheating or no bullying. But if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive. They keep on replying, “But I tell you the man broke a most solemn promise.” Exactly: that is precisely what you have to forgive. (This doesn’t mean that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart — every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.) The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.
It is a well-known fact that it is easier to forgive than forget. As the old adage states: “Once burned, twice shy.” Often those who wrong us take the position that because we are Christians we must as part of our faith necessarily forgive them just as though the event never occurred. This sounds as though some arrogant punk who knows the Bible reveling in slapping the other cheek indefinitely. As bad as that may be, it is true, we are to emulate Christ and forgive them entirely for their offense against us unconditionally. Is this to say that God requires us to be so gullible as to continue believing in them as we once did before they wronged us?
During my career as a CEO I could never tolerate someone lying to me. Indeed, I replaced more than one for that offense. I learned that even if they told me the truth 99 times after catching them in an outright lie I always seemed to question whether or not this time they were telling the truth. I found that I could forgive the lie but could not bring myself to trust them anymore. So, is this my sin for not ever trusting them again as part of the forgiveness process? Or is it a case of their reaping what they have sown?
As I think about the love of Christ and how He forgives and forgets, I am now convinced that His followers should . . . well . . . FOLLOW HIM!
No one said it is easy being a Christian. Ask yourself what would Christ do? What has Christ done?
For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.
The Jesus Alliance is uniting, equipping, & mobilizing Christ-followers around the world to counter billions of negative and anti-faith media attacks with messages of truth, hope, and the unconditional love of Jesus Christ – together we can rebuild a Godly culture.