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Heart That Forgives The Worst

Always have eyes to see the best, a heart that forgives the worst, a mind that forgets the bad, and a soul that never loses hope.

~author unknown

Last week, we focused on the first part of the prayer above; this week, we will focus on the second part: a heart that forgives the worst.

This isn’t a heart built with platinum, gold, diamond, or silver, nor is it a heart stronger than a rock. It is soft enough to recognize that indeed there’s room for improvement for everyone. It is a heart that is expandable enough to take in all things painful, disappointing, and hurtful, and yet is willing to seek reconciliation. It is a heart that chooses to see the best in itself and others, not only through the lens of forgiveness but healing. To forgive has never been an affirmation of the injury that was caused, but it is about the best you see in yourself and those who may have hurt or wronged you.

One of my worse experiences as a kid was witnessing the estrangement of my dad and his younger brother. I do not know what caused the rift between them, but it must have been incredibly telling on both of them. I never saw my uncle and father hang out. I never saw my uncle visit my father’s house, nor did I see my father visit my uncle. Looking back, it appears to me that both hearts hardened over time into rocks of stone - thus leaving no room for healing and reconciliation.

On my father’s deathbed, however, he took a step that he should’ve taken long ago. He reached out on several occasions to my uncle, inviting him to come to see him before he dies. But I guess my uncle’s heart was still as hard as a stone, and so declined the invitation.

In Matthew's gospel, Jesus invites us to pray for our enemies. Well, who in their right mind will dare pray for the very person whom they consider an enemy? Which one of you would pray for that very person who has caused you so much pain or is still causing you some pain? It doesn’t sound reasonable, but the point in praying for your enemies is to open yourself up to the possibility of reconciliation and healing, should that door open. Since you can never tell when the door to healing and reconciliation will open, you have to be ready with a heart as pure as snow and as warm as the heat from a fireplace, to offer and receive the healing and reconciliation that you deserve.

In a few days, we will host our Annual Meeting. It is an opportunity for stock-taking. We will give thanks to God. We will give thanks for each other and our dedication to this community of faith. We will share all the wonderful things we have been able to accomplish over the past year. In the midst of our celebration, we also have to be mindful of those who may feel hurt by some of our decisions and ask for their forgiveness - that is the only way that healing and reconciliation can happen.

Listen to one of the fascinating thoughts that the prophet Ezekiel shared about God’s promise: “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” A heart that is tender enough to be full of grace.

On the second Monday of each month, members of Christ Church go to the Dorsey Center to feed some of our homeless and poor neighbors. I’d like to share a story about an incident that happened this past Monday. According to Shahra, who is one of the volunteers from Christ Church, there is a resident of the center who is either complaining or has never shown any appreciation to the people who come over to serve. This past Monday, however, this same man approached the volunteers, expressed remorse over his past behavior, and for the first time in as many months or even years, thanked them for coming to the center to feed them.

For me, the gift that Shahra and all the volunteers offered to this man was a soft heart that didn’t judge or condemn him for his behavior. It was a heart that was ready to accept his apology and expression of gratitude. It is a heart that was driven towards seeing the best in him and the best that is possible for him, and all of us.

I learned that a heart that forgives isn’t one built with platinum, gold, diamond, silver, or any kind of stone. It is a heart of flesh that God has placed within you - this heart sees the best in itself and in others. More than that, it forgives the worst because it believes in redemption.

I always wonder: What would have happened if my uncle had responded to my father’s invitation? What would have happened if he had a heart that forgave the worst? What would have happened if he had dropped his anger and jumped at the opportunity for healing and reconciliation?

I have similar questions for you: What would happen if your goal were to always seek healing and reconciliation? What would happen if you let your heart of flesh speak for you? How much would it cost your heart to forgive the worst?

There’s always a moment of redemption for all of us. Maybe, when we begin to see the best in us and in others, we would readily see the redemption that is available for the heart of flesh that yearns for it.



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