It seems like lately I am learning my best spiritual lessons from either the unchurched or from children. I was thinking this morning about a former boss of mine, Jim. I worked for him when I was twenty years old. He owned a chain of restaurants and was very successful. He tried college but said he realized it wasn't for him. He would say that he knew he would never be as smart as everyone else, but he could out work anybody. Jim was as cute as a button and always on ten. Despite his success he was very down to earth and treated everyone with the same respect. It wasn't above him to come into the restaurant on a busy night and grab a broom or bus tables. I worked for him with my best friends and roommates, Ginny and Shirley.
One day Shirley's boyfriend came to me very upset. He said that Jim had slept with my roommates while on a business trip out of town and then threatened them if they ever spoke up about it. I probably wouldn't have believed it, but since the trip, Ginny and Shirley were constantly laughing and giggling about a private joke. I didn't know what it was about but I got the feeling it was about something illicit. Also I was very gullible and just couldn't imagine my friends making up such a wild tale.
Well, to make a long story short, I confronted Jim. I even threatened him. It was the only time I have ever seen him angry. He denied it and stormed out. A while later my friends arrived and Shirley confessed that it was all a big lie she had made up to manipulate her boyfriend.
I apologized to Jim and he accepted my apology graciously. Thank God he didn't want or need his pound of flesh in that small town where jobs were scarce. In fact his forgiveness was so complete that he even tried to fix me up with his best friend. And a while later, when a manager who resented my faith accused me of stealing, he intervened for me. He knew I wasn't a thief.
Jim didn't go to church. Maybe that's why he didn't know anything about church forgiveness. You know the kind where we mouth the words but still want to hold it over a person's head until we feel they have suffered sufficiently under our resentment. He didn't know about church forgiveness where we say we have forgiven, yet every time a person's name is mentioned we say more with our facial expressions than our words ever could. He didn't know about church forgiveness, where we spread our resentment under the guise of a prayer request because we are "just so concerned" about the situation. Jim didn't know anything about any of that. When he forgave you he forgave you completely and he never mentioned it again.