Henley sings, "The more I know, the less I understand / All the things I thought I knew, I'm learning again." Those words speak volumes to me. It seems that the older I get the less I understand about some things, especially when it comes to people. Sometimes the more we know about someone, the less we understand what they do. That is one reason we need forgiveness, whether given or received.
The song goes on:
These times are so uncertain/ There's a yearning undefined/
...People filled with rage/ We all need a little tenderness/
How can love survive in such a graceless age/
The trust and self-assurance that can lead to happiness/
They're the very things we kill, I guess
We live in uncertain times. Those of us who follow Jesus face an uncertain future that may include persecution and definitely will include a loss of the influence the church has enjoyed. Because we are family, we must be a family that forgives. The age is quickly becoming more and more graceless, and forgiveness is necessary for love to survive.
In some way, Henley gets it:
"I've been trying to get down to the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak/ And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it's about forgiveness
Even if you don't love me anymore
He recognizes the vital importance of forgiveness:
There are people in your life who've come and gone
They let you down and hurt your pride
Better put it all behind you; life goes on
You keep carryin' that anger, it'll eat you inside
We have all been hurt by people, whether it's an abusive parent or spouse, a tyrannical boss, or a friend who has betrayed us. Some of those hurts heal relatively quickly while some will never be totally healed until God wipes all tears from our eyes. Some folks we can reconcile with, while with others reconciliation is impossible. The one thing we can do is forgive. Like the Amish in Pennsylvania, the people in Rwanda, or the formerly oppressed majority in South Africa, we can forgive. We must forgive. If we don't, it will eat away at us and cause issues for the rest of our life.
Forgiveness is more about us than the person we are forgiving. By forgiving, we release the other from any hold their act still has on us. We also release ourselves. We do incur a cost by giving up our "right" to extract a pound of flesh, but that pound of flesh can never pay for their act and forgiving frees us and enables us to move on with our lives. We are no longer bound to that act or that person. We also must forgive because our Father has forgiven us far worse trespasses than any of us have ever felt. Jesus command us to forgive and reminds us that forgiving is an indication of our own forgiveness. We must forgive. For the glory of God and the advance of his kingdom, for the good of others, and for our own wholeness. It's not easy, but it must be a part of our lives.
There is another side to this coin. That is repentance. That's a subject for another post.