In a previous blog, I compared life under quarantine to a pressure cooker. My Instant Pot creates a high–pressure environment that allows food to cook much faster! Likewise, I find that life under quarantine is putting pressure on the family, and on me, so that I’ve been getting angrier much faster than I usually would.
As a result, I’ve had to practice apologizing to my wife and kids every single day, and often, more than once a day (see James 5:16a).
That’s one spiritual discipline for life under quarantine. Of course, the flipside of apologizing is forgiving.
I look at my kids, and I see that they’re acting out stresses they don’t understand they have. It’s the same with Abby and me. We’re all snapping at each other and acting out in different ways—intentionally or not. When should you forgive? In some places, Jesus conditioned forgiving others on their repentance:
Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4).
If someone repents, forgive him. But does that mean you should only forgive if he repents? That is, should you otherwise hold a grudge? Of course not. It’s like driving—if the light turns red, then stop your car. But you should also feel free to stop at crosswalks, for school buses, and stop signs. If someone repents, forgive him. But there are other reasons to forgive, too.
In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus taught:
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors (Matt 6:12).
There, God’s forgiveness of you depends on your forgiving others, which has led dispensational commentators to say this must be “fellowship” forgiveness, not positional forgiveness.
But finally, there is the general attitude of forgiveness recommended by Paul:
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you (Eph 4:32).
That last verse is definitely one that I have to keep at the forefront of my mind during this coronavirus quarantine. My instinct (or my “flesh”) tends to be the exact opposite of this—unkind, hardhearted, and begrudging. At least, that’s the point I get to a lot quicker than normal! So, I’ve had to forgive. That’s another important spiritual discipline during this quarantine period.
I know that many of you are experiencing the same things. As I’ve checked in with friends and family, I’ve heard about lots of arguments. We’re all on short fuses.
So, forgive each other. Do it liberally. Do it freely. And do it because “God in Christ forgave you” first.