Empty Gifts

(A repost from PeaceMeal, an email newsletter from Ken Sande’s Peacemaker Ministries)

empty-gift
Photography: Poet102

“…forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Eph. 4:32

I could see the weariness in his face. “I’m sure both of you are in terrible pain, Rick. But I don’t think divorce is going to end it. You’ll just trade one kind of pain for another. There is a way to keep your marriage together and to truly put the past behind you. But you won’t find it with the empty forgiveness you’ve offered Pam.”

“What do you mean, ’empty forgiveness’?”

[Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 202]

Food for Thought

Does your forgiveness promise a lot but deliver a little?

“Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” are both in the past, and many of us have gotten a jump on our Christmas shopping. Now that you’ve worked so hard to find a gift for a loved one, would you neglect to actually include it in the box when you give it to him or her?

Empty forgiveness. What if we confessed a serious sin to God and He said, “I forgive you…but I can’t be close to you, ever again?” We’d probably have a very strong reaction to that, countering with something like, “Well, that’s just empty forgiveness!” And it is. It’s not how God acts. But that’s how we act sometimes.

Consider for a moment those times this past year where it looked like you gave the gift of forgiveness; however, once the person opened it, they found the box was empty. For whatever reason(s), you’ve withheld intimacy or friendship, and you’ve just traded one kind of pain for another. As you head into the Christmas season, make sure the gift of forgiveness is more than a bright covering of wrapping and bows with nothing inside. Instead, by God’s grace, make your gifts jam-packed with true forgiveness, modeling the forgiveness that you have received from God in Christ (Eph. 4:32).

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