Wednesday, April 2, 2014



It can be the most dangerous word in the English language. With this one word, you can slam the door on relationships with a chilling finality.

Sometimes we say it out loud, with venom, and follow up on it. I have seen many relationships, both within families and among friends, that ended when one or both people decided that the hurt was too great to forgive. Some healed eventually, and some continue to this day.

More often, we say it to ourselves, for offenses both large and small:

Someone speaks to us unkindly...done!
Someone takes advantage of us financially...done!
Someone betrays our trust...done!
Someone hurts our feelings on Facebook…done!
Someone leaves us to do all the work...done!
Someone fails to call us back a few times...done!
Someone hurts someone we care about...done!
Someone embarrasses us in front of our boss...done!

You could probably add a hundred more without breaking a sweat. We are imperfect people and we hurt each other, and whether it's intentional often doesn't matter to us.

And whether we follow up on our internal outburst or not, we see the spirit of unforgiveness crouching at the door of our hearts every time we perceive that someone has wronged us. I know I do. least for a while.

We want to know how much we are supposed to endure. Peter came to Jesus and basically asked him, How many times do I have to forgive before I can say "done!"? (Matthew 18:21-23) And the answer Jesus gave was hard to swallow; our fragile egos crave a limit for having to endure pain.

When I think of all the times the word done has crossed my lips, I am overwhelmed with the love, mercy and forgiveness of God for me. No matter how many times I hurt him, he is waiting for me to return with open arms, extending infinite love. When you have some time, go read the book of Hosea in the Bible. In that book, the prophet Hosea's marriage is used an as illustration of God's unfailing love. God was heartbroken at how far his people had strayed from him, but the book ends with a declaration that he is always there, loving them and waiting for them to return to a rich relationship with him.

And then there is the ultimate statement by God that he is not done with me...

We take offense so easily. But even for the big ones, the ones where everyone can understand our bitterness, this strikes me: No matter how I have been mistreated, abused, ignored, or betrayed, God's Son endured that and worse on my behalf. He came from infinite glory to endure the shame of death, even death on a cross. And as he did it, he cried out for his Father to forgive the ones who were doing it. He never said, "Done!"

Oh, wait a minute...yes he did. Just before breathing his last breath, he cried out, "It is finished!" (John 19:30) Or, translated loosely, "Done!"

The ultimate sacrifice for my sin...done!
The dominion of darkness over this world...done!
The punishment that I deserve....done!
The power of death and the grave...done!

And because his grace and mercy are so limitless, he calls us to the same. Because the debt we have been forgiven is so massive, we must forgive the smaller debts that our friends, family, and yes, even enemies owe us.

Because he said, "Done!" to sin and death, I have the power to stop saying it to others. May it be so.

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