Forgiving Those Who Sin Differently Than I Do

I came across this choice quote in a book I’m reading called Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High:

A rather clever person once [said] in the form of a prayer, “Lord, help me to forgive those who sin differently than I do.”  When we recognize that we all have weaknesses, it’s easier to find a way to respect others.  When we do this, we feel a kinship or a mutuality between ourselves and even the thorniest of people.  This sense of kinship and connection to others helps create Mutual Respect and eventually enables us to stay in dialogue with virtually anyone.

That prayer captures the crux of the matter in our relationships, doesn’t it?  We grow used to our sins, but we scratch our heads at those who struggle with sins different from ours. We wonder, “How could someone be involved with that?”  Others, however, may look at us the same way.

Granted, the prayer is flawed–we don’t forgive sins others commit in general, but only those who have committed those sins against us.  It reminds us of the parable where the publican rejoiced in his status before God and that he wasn’t a ‘sinner’ like this tax collector.  He didn’t believe he needed mercy, while the tax collector knew he needed God’s mercy to have any hope of forgiveness (see Luke 18:9-14).

When we realize we are sinners in need of a Savior and His daily grace to overcome the flesh, we look at others who are on the journey to take those next steps in Christ as well.  And it’s a needed tonic for any moral superiority that you may have toward anyone else.

And praise God for that tonic!

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