I want more than what I am willing to give. In other words, I'm selfish. Shouldn't be a news flash. I'm human and humans are inherently selfish. Don't believe me? Watch any toddler at her first play date. She will knock another child over to keep a toy to herself. It doesn't even have to be her favorite toy.
I watched a child once walk around with a plastic box full of his favorite toys. He wasn't playing with any of them, he just didn't want the other little boy that was there to play with them. What he didn't get is the fact that his desire to keep the toys from the other child meant that he wasn't having any fun either!
I want grace extended to me when I screw up. Whether it's a confession made in the privacy of prayer time where I am simply asking for God's forgiveness and grace or a face-to-face apology to another person that I have wronged, my purpose is always to obtain forgiveness, grace, and restoration.
So one would think that my desire to be forgiven would lead me to willingly, eagerly forgive others when they have wronged me. Makes sense, right? Unfortunately, my selfishness extends even to my willingness to forgive others. I am aware that humans will occasionally do things to hurt others and will need to be forgiven. In my selfishness, I want others to screw up less often - or at least in ways that effect me less! - so that I am not called on to extend as much grace as I ask for.
It's a tough lesson to learn. Forgiving is scary! We don't like letting people off the hook if they've hurt us. But forgiveness isn't just about the other person. Yes, you will occasionally forgive others who continue hurtful behavior. Sometimes you might even find yourself having to forgive someone who doesn't even admit they've done anything wrong much less seek your forgiveness.
But forgiveness is necessary. It keeps us from nursing grudges or seeking revenge. Ever met someone who can't forgive a wrong suffered in their past? Are they fun to be around? In my experience, not usually!! They tend to be so angry that they can't let go of the hurt long enough to fully enjoy anything!
So my challenge to myself is to forgive quickly; especially in those moments where forgiveness isn't sought by the "offender". The clincher for me is the portion of the Lord's prayer which states "forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us". Do I really want God to base his forgiveness of me on how I forgive others? Do you?