Unpacking: Forgiving When They Don’t Ask (The Gift of Forgiveness Part 2 – Luke 6)

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Buried in a year of flashy new releases, big budget titles, and of course the first real year of next-gen video game launches for the PS5 and Xbox S/X, you might be forgiven for missing the delightfully low-budget, no-frills, puzzler with a message that is “Unpacking”… a game that is about, well, you guessed it…. unpacking. Typically, the act of packing and unpacking is one of my LEAST favorite things to do in life… I would honestly rather try to get microwaved tomato sauce stains out of one hundred Tupperware bowls before I ever unpack a box again. But within the confines of this game the act of unpacking is oddly therapeutic. Unpacking is no mere moving simulator with silly physics like “Moving Out”… it is actually a bit of an understated character study told through the act of going through boxes. Following one character throughout her life story, you are responsible for unpacking everything from her original childhood home, her first dorm room, her first apartment, and without spoiling the story too much multiple other moves throughout her life. And while the gameplay and art style oozes simplicity and charm, there is surprising depth to the experience. The items in the game aren’t simply designed to be placed in specific areas based on their size and weight… their placement is designed to have a very real correlation with where she is in her life at that point as well.

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How she is FEELING about herself and her life at that time is very much attached to her memories of each of these objects and what they represent to her at that moment in time. Her beloved stuffed animals may go in different places based on the stage of her life she is in, and objects that carry painful memories as she advances through the different heart-breaking experiences we all go through in life may determine where they can as well as where they can NOT be placed… for example a picture representing a heartbreak can go into a drawer, but certainly not on the wall. And as I considered this game in which all of these inanimate objects possessed resonance far beyond what their appearance would entail, it got me to thinking about some of the areas of our lives that tend to require some “unpacking” as we go through each different phase of our life. And within that process there are areas that we struggle to move on from because of what they represent… things that continue to haunt us by their mere existence many months or years after the original experience occurred.

Most of us do a lot of moving in life… literally and figuratively. But the act of unpacking can be not only difficult but painful, because there are things in there that we haven’t healed from or moved on from. And one of the biggest reasons for that is because there are painful and unresolved feelings attached to parts of our lives that we can’t move on. Wherever we go, they follow us… emotional baggage that isn’t going to go anywhere until we unpack it and deal with it. And while last week we discussed the importance of forgiving others and pressing reset in their lives (linked below)…

This time we are going to take a deeper dive into forgiveness by looking at what we do in those situations in which our offender has NOT asked for forgiveness… I mean, it is hard enough to forgive someone who has hurt us and apologized. But what if they haven’t? What if they never do? What if they are no longer with us, and as a result we cannot even seek absolution and restoration? These feelings don’t simply move on just because they did… the hurt is still real, the pain they caused may still be present, and our spiritual life can still be impacted by the bitter root of resentment we still carry from that experience. And to answer those questions, we are going to one of the most commonly quoted and perhaps most misunderstood verses in all of Scripture, so buckle up.

Christ Understood the Power of Stories; It's Time We Do as Well

Luke 6:37-38 Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Before we even begin to dissect this, we have to look at the word “judge” in that verse in the original Greek…

krinete: From the root word krínō – Properly, to distinguish, i.e. Decide (mentally or judicially); by implication, to try, condemn, punish — avenge, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, think.

This verse has been used broadly for many years in a variety of ways to support many different viewpoints on a great many things, but if we are going to keep it in the proper context this is a legal term referring to the act of making a permanent decision of condemnation with punitive implications. And Christ is making it very clear that the greater context of what He is speaking about is FORGIVENESS… I mean, it is LITERALLY in the third sentence. And how are we supposed to forgive? In the same way WE want to be forgiven… in an abundant, overflowing, more than we could have possibly asked or hoped for measurement.

Forgiveness Sets You Free - Just Between Us Magazine

You might be asking what this has to do with people who have never apologized to us. Perfect… I am glad you remember what we were talking about. But to answer that question, I have to open up to you a little bit. See, I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. I have sinned against people… I have made MANY selfish decisions, and they have had negative consequences. Not just for the person I hurt, but perhaps people I didn’t even KNOW I had hurt or offended. For extended periods of my life I was not living for the Lord, and as a result there are probably people that I am not even aware of that I impacted negatively. And in the Lord’s infinite mercy and grace, I have found and received full and total forgiveness from Him for the many, many, MANY selfish and foolish sins that lie in my past. There are some I may not recollect… there are others that I cannot go back and make right. But you know what level of forgiveness I want from the Father? ABSOLUTE forgiveness… for everything I know I messed up, and everything I DIDN’T know I messed up. For everyone I have hurt, and everyone I may never even realize I have hurt. And because that is the measure of forgiveness that I want to receive from Him, THAT is the measure of forgiveness I must be willing to GIVE. I want forgiveness for ALL my sins… so I must be willing to forgive everyone of ALL of theirs as well. Overflowing, abundant, far more than what was asked for or deserved forgiveness…no strings attached.

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Mark 11:25-26 And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.

This one says it all as directly as it could… it doesn’t say to dial them on the phone and see if they are sorry. It doesn’t say to check their social media to see if they are still acting like a fool. It says if you have anything against ANYONE, forgive them. That kind of covers ALL the bases. And once again, we see the same principle at work here… our level of forgiveness from the Father runs in a direct ratio to the level of forgiveness we extend to others. It doesn’t say they apologized… they may not even be sorry. But we aren’t forgiving them for THEIR sake… we are forgiving them for OUR sake.

I think the first step is to understand that forgiveness does not exonerate  the perpetrator. Forgiveness liberates the victim. It's a gift you give  yourself. - T.D. Jakes - Quotespedia.org

Now, you might say, “What about that verse that says not to cast our pearls before swine?”… and while that is true, consider this. While Christ hung on that cross He did not use His limited time and strength trying to convince everyone that even though they had made a mistake, He would still forgive them. There is no record of Jesus chasing Pilate down and telling him even though he signed off on His execution, they were still cool. He didn’t even go around letting everyone who killed Him know they were forgiven after His resurrection. He simply asked the Father to forgive them. This is not a call to go tracking down everyone who has ever hurt us and inform them that we have forgiven them… honestly, that may go very poorly unless His Spirit has specifically led us in that direction. This is about RELEASING them from what they have done… not because they are apologetic, because they may NEVER be. Not because they deserve it, because none of us do. But because the level of forgiveness we want from our Father is absolute mercy and grace for ALL of our sins, we must go and do likewise. Unpack that box today… not for them, but for YOU. If we want to be like Christ, we must remember that as He innocently suffered and die for the sins of others He had one thing to say about it…

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