5 Reasons to Forgive

I’ve been working again on forgiving people. I find that when I’m stressed about my life, I look for people to blame for my current situation. Sometimes, it’s God, though that’s not very common anymore. It can be others for certain things, but it’s usually myself. I’ve made many poor decisions over the course of my life. I neglected to invest in Apple, Amazon, and Google when they were relatively cheap. I did invest too much in a stock I thought I understood, but which plummeted. I was often difficult to be around during college and my first two jobs. I hurt so many people along the way, and none so deeply as myself.

There are a few things I’ve realized, however:

1. I can’t change the past by dwelling on it. I can learn lessons, I can apologize, and I can make amends, but I can’t go back and make better investment decisions. I can’t take missed opportunities or shut my mouth at certain times. What’s in the past is done; it’s only the future that I can change. By dwelling on the past, I waste my future as well.

2. I will make worse decisions if I can’t let go of my bad ones. There are lessons to be learned from my past, such as not letting my employer work me 60 or more hours a week, but if I focus on my bad decisions, I’ll believe I’ll only make bad ones in the future. That will lead me to procrastinate, causing me to miss more opportunities, or give up and pick the easiest option under the assumption that no matter what I pick, I’ll be wrong. I can make the best decisions when my thought process isn’t getting its information solely from my past.

3. I can’t believe what God says about me if I can’t forgive myself. The Bible says I’m a child of God, that I’m forgiven if I believe in Him. I reject my identity as His son if I don’t believe I’m forgiven for my sins. This means I can’t have confidence, which in turn causes me to seek a sense of self-worth elsewhere, which will inevitably end in failure, perpetuating the cycle. Only by forgiving myself can I end this cycle.

4. I reject God when I refuse to forgive myself. This one sounds harsh because there are a number of Christians who still harbor grudges against themselves, but if Jesus died to forgive me, what right have I to say that His death wasn’t enough? In the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-15, Jesus tells His disciples that if they don’t forgive others, they won’t be forgiven. It’s not just a quid pro quo statement, it’s a matter of faith. If I don’t believe that His death was enough for not only me, but for everyone else who believed as well, then it’s not enough for anyone. It’s the ultimate all-or-nothing deal. I can accept that His forgiveness covers all the sins of everyone who comes to Him, or I can reject it for myself.

5. My mistakes don’t matter that much. This life is but a blink compared to eternity. The things that we think matter so much don’t. A big house is nice, but at best, it’s a comfort for a few years compared to a mansion in Heaven for untold billions of years. I’d love to have my dream job, but it’s still just the tiniest fragment of time compared to what I’ll have when I die. Even my relationship with Leah, though I love her passionately, would not mean much if her value was just in the good times we share together or in help through the bad times. It’s her value in helping me draw closer to God and serving Him better that really makes our relationship worthwhile. In all things, the cares of this world and even the needs of this world pale in comparison to the slightest treasure in Heaven. I have to stop judging my life by my successes or failures on earth and instead judge it by the two things that matter most to God: how much I love Him and how much I love others.

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Treasure Hunting

As I said yesterday, it’d be nice to have a bit more money. Ideally, I want a good-sized house with a golden retriever chasing squirrels in the fenced back yard, with enough money to start a family, save for their college and weddings, and still be able to take Leah on a castle tour of Europe. I don’t need millions (though I wouldn’t exactly say no if they were offered), just enough to live how I would feel comfortable.

And yet I still have a problem: I want this life. I just started a tax prep course yesterday as a first step to attaining this life. Even though I’m doing better about trusting God to provide, there’s a significant part of me that is concerned with what He provides for me on earth.

My focus should instead by on piling up treasures in Heaven, as Matthew 6:20 tells me. The riches of this world will fade or can be taken away. No matter how much we have when we die, not a cent will come with us to Heaven. Our house down here won’t matter anymore. Two hundred years from now, it’s not likely to exist anymore. Whatever books we sell are likely to be forgotten. Generations down the road, our progeny won’t even know our names. Even with Leah, one of us is likely going to have to bury the other.

We can enjoy our treasures on earth while we have them, but for how long will we have them? And if our life is but a fleeting second, as ephemeral as a mayfly, when compared with eternity, why should we spend this brief sojourn worrying about how to make it more comfortable?

When you rent a car, do you take it in for a paint job and put in a new stereo? No, even if it’s a horrible color and the stereo is broken, you put up with it knowing that the reason for which you rented the car is more important than the car itself.

We sometimes speak of having a lease on life, yet we don’t consider what that really means. We get caught up in the day-to-day management of life, especially the part about making ourselves and those we love comfortable. In an average day, how much thought and effort and time are truly given to amassing treasures in Heaven rather than treasures on earth?

I won’t speak for anyone else, but for my part, I know it’s not nearly enough. My time here is short, my time in Heaven is long. And it’s about time I went treasure hunting for those things which will last.