You can bless others in a multitude of ways, but perhaps the most difficult way is forgiving someone who has hurt you. That takes some work, some time, some prayer, some stamina, some humility, some courage, some hope, some clear words, some …
I read a quote today (the source of which is reported to be Mark Twain) that expanded my understanding of forgiveness, “Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
You can just feel the pain and hurt caused by that crush of a heel. If that heel crushes a thistle, the heel will hurt too. But in this case the heel crushes a violent, and instead of the heel being hurt it is blessed.
Children of God are violets, but it started with Jesus being our violet and forgiving us. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus didn’t demand that we first improve and behave, but died for us even while we were unpleasant and unrighteous.
God didn’t wait for us to become pleasant and righteous, and then send his Son. God promises, “I will forgive [your] wickedness” (Jeremiah 31:34).
It can help to remember that when we forgive others, we don’t forgive what is pleasant and righteous. We can wish all we want that forgiving would be pleasant but if there is forgiveness then prior to that there must be sin. Ugly. Hurtful. Wicked. Destructive. That, exactly, is what God forgives in the death of his own Son.
What makes the wickedness no longer wicked is forgiveness. The aroma of the violet on the heel that has crushed it.
“For we are to God the aroma of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:15) when we forgive those who hurt us, even before they rehabilitate, even before their behavior takes a pleasant turn, and even before we ourselves recover from the pain.
God makes violets and gives them their fragrance as something pleasant, even to heels that crush them. Born of God into Christ, believers offer the fragrance of forgiveness to those who otherwise might never know a smell so sweet.
PRAYER: Sometimes I feel downtrodden and dirty, God, when others hurt me by their sinful behavior. They drag me into their wickedness, and I resent having to deal with it. Teach me today that I can bless them by forgiving them, and being the aroma of Christ. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Slow down, the PRAY acronym.
- Praise (tell God what you appreciate about his forgiveness)
- Repent (tell God about your sins, trust in his promises of forgiveness)
- Ask (think of a person God wants you to forgive, or keep forgiving, or show mercy and grace on a daily basis)
- Yield (talk to God about the next step after you say “Amen,” how you want faith to lead the way, how you are willing to be part of his answer and see it develop for your good)