Secondhand Forgiveness

by Debora M. Coty @DeboraCoty

“Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. ‘I’ll do the judging,’ says God. ‘I’ll take care of it.’” Romans 12:19 MSG

My daughter Cricket came home from second grade in tears. Again. Her teacher had rebuked her in front of the class for asking another girl for help with a math problem. Cricket felt humiliated and stupid. And it wasn’t the first time.

Because of a learning disability, Cricket had difficulty with some subjects, particularly math. I’d already spoken to the teacher – new to the school and extremely harsh in her control tactics – about Cricket’s special needs.

Cricket began tearfully wrapping herself around my leg at school drop-off. I had to pry my sobbing child off my leg and force her into the classroom. My fury flared toward this insensitive teacher. I simply could not forgive what she’d done to my previously happy little girl.

I knew that secondhand forgiveness is important to Papa God, but my angry heart balked.

Like secondhand smoke afflicts innocent bystanders, secondhand forgiveness is necessary when somebody hurts someone you love. The injured person may forgive the offender, but you continue to harbor resentment indefinitely. And like cigarette smoke, unforgiveness pollutes and corrodes internally.

Secondhand forgiveness is especially hard for us mama bears when somebody messes with our cubs. Our protective instincts kick into overdrive. And we tend to hold grudges far too long.

We forget that that how we feel has nothing to do with forgiveness. We forgive as an act of the will, because Papa God asks us to, not because we feel forgiving. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NKJV). 

But in the throes of furious indignation, how do we carry out this biblical mandate? Let’s unpack this verse:

  • Be kind to one another. Our kindness as Christ-followers isn’t dependent on anyone else’s behavior. We don’t wait for someone to be kind to us; we show them how it’s done. Kindness is similar to forgiveness in that we don’t necessarily have to like someone to be kind to them. Writer Samuel Johnson said, “Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.” Likewise, we can forgive someone whether we like them or not. But we might end up feeling quite differently when we’re on our knees.
  • Be tenderhearted. Heart tenderness is the willingness to enter someone else’s world and share in their suffering; it’s the step beyond kindness, usually motivated by compassion.
  • Forgive one another. Forgiveness is the element essential to finding inner peace. Resentment is poisonous; the poison gradually spreads and chokes out the Son-light within you, leaving dark bitterness in its place. Forgiveness isn’t about changing someone else; you don’t have the power to do that. It’s about changing something within you. You don’t have the power to do that either, but Papa God does.
  • Even as God in Christ forgave you. To truly forgive others as the Lord forgives us, we must tap into our Savior’s vast supply of supernatural grace (undeserved favor). He specializes in grace – He proved that at Calvary, when Jesus willingly paid the price for our sins and died in our place. He forgives you for your wrongs and wants you to do the same for those who wrong you.

Through much prayer and Papa God’s grace, both Cricket and I forgave the insensitive teacher, although she left the school after three months due to extensive personal problems.

Forgiveness becomes a little easier when we realize there’s always something going on beneath the surface of other people’s lives that we can’t see.

Say, my friend, is there someone who needs your secondhand forgiveness today?

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Offering Secondhand Forgiveness When Someone We Love is Hurt – @DeboraCoty on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

*Adapted from Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms by Debora M. Coty with permission from Barbour Publishing.

deboracoty

About the author: Debora M. Coty lives, loves, and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband, Chuck. Debora is a popular speaker and award-winning author of over 40 inspirational books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series. Her newest release is Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Join the conversation: When have you had to offer second-hand forgiveness?

Kinda Kind

by Kaley Rhea

We try to teach our children to be kind—to share and to say gentle words and to play nice, right? But between you and me, fellow grownups, we can be some real sass-mouths to each other.

As a culture, we’re inclined to celebrate the zingers: the quick come-backs, the smart insults, the comic teasing. Something in us loves to shout, “Ohhhh! Apply cool water to that burn!” after a particularly glorious comeback. After all, it really is all in fun.

The problem is that cheeky comebacks can too easily become a habit. We look to “score points” in our verbal exchanges with hardly a conscious thought— and attempting to honestly encourage someone feels like trying to do calligraphy wrong-handed.

But Ephesians 4:32 does tell us, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted…” (NASB) As a parent, what could be sweeter than seeing your kiddos show kindness to each other? Growing up as the middle child of five, I was always rewarded by the looks on my parents’ faces when I made any effort to be kind to my sibs. When we were tenderhearted to each other, our parents glowed. It changed the entire atmosphere of our home.

Have you thought how you can bless your Heavenly Father lately? Be kind. Be tenderhearted. While there may be awkwardness or an odd feeling of vulnerability in replacing glibness with kindness, it is an opportunity to show sweetness toward Jesus Himself (Colossians 3:17).

I think sometimes a kind person can leave the impression of saccharine-sweetness or even weakness. But let’s be clear: kindness doesn’t lie or flatter or overlook sin. In fact, sometimes confrontation is the kindest thing to do. Psalm 141:5 (ESV) says, “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.” Replacing truth with feel-good-isms is no kind of kindness at all. It’s more like apathy, in fact. But kindness does require approaching someone in love with the understanding that I am not superior. That their struggle could just as easily be mine. Kindness dismisses the desire to put someone in their place and instead asks the Lord to use me however He wants in that moment, that I might encourage them to victory in Christ.

There is something a bit sinister in habitual teasing, in that it tends to keep things on a superficial level. It’s difficult to share personal struggles or meaningful victories with someone whose tendency is to laugh things off or call things out. So even if sharp but funny insults are the popular thing, they’re not generally the thing for which people are thirsting. We may celebrate the wit of the jokesters, but we’re drawn to the hearts of the kind.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that kindness is a lesson reserved for children. It’s massively important. It’s a command. And it’s impossible to do well without the help of our tirelessly kind and merciful Father. Kindness is evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in us. If you find yourself defaulting to clever put-downs or brush-offs, ask Him to change your mind. Ask Him to enable you to bless Him by blessing others with your words and actions today.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

Adapted from Messy to Meaningful.

Kaley Rhea

About the author: Kaley Rhea is a St. Louis-area author and one half of the mother/daughter writing team behind 2017 Christian romantic comedy Turtles in the Road (along with the hilarious Rhonda Rhea). She also makes up one third of the writing team for the just-released non-fiction book Messy to Meaningful: Lessons From the Junk Drawer (co-written with Rhonda Rhea and the fabulous Monica Schmelter). She’s unclear on how fractions work, but if Rhonda Rhea is the common denominator, Kaley is pretty sure that makes her like five-sixths of Monica Schmelter. Or something like that.

Join the conversation: Has someone’s kindness ever made a difference in your life?

Photo by Kiana Bosman on Unsplash

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