Everyone has dug a well. Even the most kind-hearted soul with the best of intentions has picked up a shovel. We tried to make the best decisions. Maybe we encouraged a spouse to sign on to our plans and timetable. Maybe we entered into a project or business venture with a family member or close friend.
Regardless of the details, we have all made noble decisions to only discover months or perhaps years later these choices hurt others. Our decisions, although well-intentioned, dug a hole testifying to our failings. We are not perfect people.
At the other extreme of well digging, we might have flung dirt much more dramatically. Perhaps motivated by selfishness, anger, envy or bitterness, we dug furiously with a backhoe. We intended our actions and words to hurt. Our well testifies to our failings.
Wells are painful places to visit. They remind us of faults. Our wellbeing depends upon receiving forgiveness for having dug such horrible pits.
One day everything changes. We become the individual who is suffering from another’s actions and words. Regardless of whether he or she intended to inflict damage or not, those choices hurt us. How will we respond?
We could hold that person accountable. We might express this through revenge, withdrawal or quietly nourishing a grudge.
On the other hand, we could walk to our own well. We could stare down into its darkness and remember our own need for forgiveness. We could choose to love the person who hurt us by offering the blessing of forgiveness.
All people can choose to either release others from their debts or continue to hold them accountable. However, when people are hurting they don’t feel noble or altruistic!
For those of us who have chosen to wear Christ’s name, God commands forgiveness.
Jesus emphasized this life lesson in a story. A man was freely forgiven an enormous debt he could never repay. However, he then proceeded to insist on holding his friend accountable for a much smaller debt. As a result, his own huge debt was reinstated.
Jesus closed with sobering words, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat you, if you fail to forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35). Our wells of failure should become founts of forgiveness.
Personal wells are sobering places. If we have chosen to follow Christ, then not only are we forgiven, but we have chosen a path to become a forgiving people.