"To err is human; to forgive, divine." Alexander Pope
Are you in tune? I went to a choir concert this past week. In order to be in tune in a choir, you need to learn to listen and blend your voice with others for the good of the whole. Have you ever considered how to live “in tune”?
There is a line in a George Herbert poem, Prayer. He says in prayer, there is “a kind of tune, which all things hear and fear.” Reflecting on this, Tim Keller observes that prayer tunes your heart to God. He goes on to say that when we are in tune with God, it spills over to others.*
One of the best ways to get in tune with God is prayer. The best way to learn how to pray is from Jesus himself. He teaches us how to pray through The Lord’s Prayer. It begins by getting in tune with God; by remembering who God is and adoring God. Then it moves to ask God to become a part of our lives - that God’s will be completed in us here on earth in just the way it is done in heaven.** Then Jesus asked God to give us what we need today, our daily bread, and forgive our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
This is the thing we often miss - forgiveness. Consider it anew. Jesus teaches us to pray for forgiveness each day. Forgiveness should be part of the rhythm of our day. We are to receive forgiveness from God and extend forgiveness to others.
There are many misconceptions about forgiveness, Forgiveness does not mean forgetting or excusing behavior. Forgiveness does not lead to immediate restoration or trust. Forgiveness does not mean you condone what a person did. Forgiveness does not require that a person admit their wrongdoing. Forgiveness does not always lead to reconciliation. It takes two people to reconcile but one person to forgive.
The amazing thing is that everyone agrees on this: forgiveness is good for you. It’s good for your health. Doctors tell us it lowers your blood pressure, helps you sleep, strengthens your immune system, and contributes to your overall physical well-being.
Counselors tell you that it reduces anxiety, stress, anger, and resentment and it helps you improve your self-esteem. It also helps you become more empathic and compassionate to others.
The Bible teaches us that it leads to better relationships and a life of freedom and peace. Forgiveness can also help bring change for the common good. The Bible tells us that we are to forgive as God has forgiven us. “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call on you.” Ps 86:5.
When you see yourself as someone who needs forgiveness, it is easier to forgive others. “Make allowances for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Col 3:13
Forgiveness is an act of love. Forgiveness can be hard and slow. You can offer forgiveness before you feel it. It is a choice and a process that helps you move forward. Writer Frederick Buechner said, “Forgiveness means the freedom again to be at peace inside [your] own skin and to be glad in each other’s presence.”
The way we live in tune is a practice of joining our lives with God, turning to him to guide us so we can live as he would live. Forgiveness helps move us toward being in tune with God and one another. That’s a song worth singing.
For what do I need to be forgiven?
Is there anyone I need to forgive?
* Timothy Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God
**Dallas Willard paraphrases the Lord’s Prayer this way.