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Should We Forgive Lance Armstrong?

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This guest post on Lance Armstrong’s recent doping confession comes from Anna McCarthy, author of “Forgiveness is Not an Option”:

lance armstrongThere has been a lot of talk recently about Lance Armstrong and his public “apology”. Many say it wasn’t genuine or it was too vague; in summary many are unhappy with his public confession and believe he has not earned their forgiveness.

I’ve wrestled with this too, given there have been many Lance Armstrong’s in my life. Many who wronged me, lied to me, cheated to get what they wanted and left me with a seemingly half-hearted apology that was magically supposed to fix everything. The truth is, when we’ve been wronged and feel as though we’ve been deceived, hearing an apology that doesn’t meet the level of the gravity of the crime, almost seems to make it worse.  I get it and have admittedly struggled with this.

The problem, however, is that if we profess to be followers of Jesus, then we must choose not to be led by our emotion, especially in areas of the heart. Jesus taught that we must forgive; even if the apology doesn’t meet our standards or if there’s no apology at all. We still have to choose to forgive. Here are Jesus’ own words: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matt 6:14-15)

I don’t know about you, but this passage is not easy to read! For some reason, all of us want to defend our reason for withholding forgiveness believing it somehow escapes this Forgiveness is not an optionprinciple. Yet, Jesus didn’t give any clauses; in fact, he goes further on to say that we are supposed to actually do good towards those who aren’t kind to us (Matt 5:44). This sounds nice in a Sunday school class, but when you are in the context of a situation, facing a betrayal and that person doesn’t offer the kind of apology you believe is deserved, this verse can feel like an impossible pill to swallow. This may be one of the reasons Paul prayed this way, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power…” (Eph. 3:16-18)

What Jesus asked us to do in the area of forgiveness is impossible without the power of Christ working through us. I know, because I tried in my own strength and failed miserably. However, having embraced his spirit in my heart in this area, I have seen forgiveness and love deepen and grow for those who I may never receive an apology from; and actually found myself able to do good towards them.

So, whether it’s Lance Armstrong’s apology you are wrestling with or someone else’s, I encourage you to pray the way Paul did and ask that Christ’s power may dwell within you, strengthening you to extend his love and grace towards those who may not deserve it.

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