QuicksandNovember 14, 2023
Bump the TrajectoryJanuary 11, 2024
The Gospel writers use an interesting Greek word each time Jesus talks about forgiving: “Aphiemi.” Aphiemi carries the primary meaning of “To release.” Jesus is telling us to release others from their sins against us – not because they deserve it, but because we deserve it: i.e., we are only hurting ourselves by holding onto our hurt and resentment.
(Drinking rat poison and waiting on the rat to die.)
I have learned that anything, or anyone, other than Jesus, which I am holding onto, is typically holding onto me and, worse, holding me back. So the first step in forgiveness is to just release it. Get it off you! Cast it away – as many times as it rears its ugly head, as many times as it takes – like playing “Whack-A-Mole” with your resentments.
But the Holy Spirit introduces another Greek word for forgiveness in two of Paul’s letters: “Charizomai.” Charizomai carries more muscle. It means to “Restore and Reconcile.” Now, this might be bad news for some of you. Is there someone in your life with whom you are upside down? Someone in your family, friends, or sphere of influence whom you have perhaps released from a past hurt – although I would be hesitant to assume that – but with whom you have not lifted a finger to reconcile?
It may be time to lift that finger. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is convicting you as you read this? Is a name coming to mind?
Jesus had this to say about proactive forgiveness in his Sermon on the Mount:
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”—Matt. 5:23-24
First, go. Be reconciled. Make it right, as best you can. Jesus is saying, “I am much less interested in your gifts, your service, or your church activities, and far more interested in you making peace with everyone you can.”
In his Beatitudes, Jesus said this about being proactive,
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”—Matt. 5:9
He could have said, “Blessed are the peacekeepers,” but that seems too passive for Jesus. He wants you to be proactive. Be a peace maker, not just preserver of peace.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you …”
Who might be a “brother or a sister” in your life? With whom might Jesus want you to make the first move to restore and reconcile? We can start with the obvious: your family members – including extended family as well. (That might keep you busy for awhile.) We can then move out into the various circles of influence in our lives. Perhaps co-workers, an old friend, or a previous business relationship. And certainly anyone who views you as a follower of Jesus.
If someone views me as a Christian, and we are estranged for whatever reason, and I proactively reach out to them in an effort to Charizomai with them, to be a peacemaker, imagine their surprise! I had no reason to reach out to them, maybe they were even in the wrong. But because Jesus reached out to me when I was in the wrong – all my life – he asks me to do the same.
Who in your life could use a proactive effort on your part to restore and reconcile with them? Imagine the smile spreading across Jesus’ face if you were to do so. 😊
If you want a little more:
In conclusion, here is a quick Release versus Restore summary:
Aphiemi: To release, cancel, pardon, give up, leave alone.
Charizomai: To repair, restore, reconcile. Charizomai repairs brokenness, particularly by absorbing the cost. More muscle. Extending – going the extra mile.
A: Release C: Rebuilding, Reconciliation Restoration
A: Damage control C: Damage Absorption
A: Passive/Defense C: Active/Offense
A: Prevents bitterness C: Promotes relationship