Everyone knows that the first thing the police do when they are going to arrest someone is to search them to make sure they don’t have any hidden weapons. And of course, if there is ever a time when the perpetrator draws a gun or pulls out a knife, there is a showdown during which they shout “drop your weapon!”
Even if the “weapon” is a toy gun or even something fairly harmless, law enforcement is trained to treat any potential threat in the same way. They seek to disarm first and then further engage the suspect.
The smart perp will summarily throw his weapon to the ground and throw up his hands. The not so smart ones end up on reality TV or the evening news.
Even if you have never personally had this kind of encounter with the police (and I hope you never do), we all have the potential to draw our weapons and fire. I’m not talking about physical weapons, but instead relational weapons. Words that wound, stares that kill, threats and ultimatums that choke the air out of a relationship. These are the weapons that we use on even the ones we love the most.
Some of us have prepared our weapons complete with hair triggers and hand grenades and we are ready to draw and fire at a moment’s notice. The instant we get angry, we begin to lob crushing insults and ugly names. We throw daggers made out of the past—past failures that we save for just these moments—and we aim for the heart.
Many times after years in a relationship, we have armed ourselves with quite an arsenal. And even the smallest conflicts are ripe with the threat of all out nuclear war. Couples who once loved and would have done anything for each other, now suit up everyday as if preparing for battle. Any time of peace is merely a temporary ceasefire. No one has laid down their weapons, they have only withdrawn for the moment.
For those who are tired of the war, I suggest a new strategy. Drop your weapons and refuse to pick them up ever again! If you want to forge a lasting peace, you will never succeed if you are always carrying a dagger in your back pocket.
How do you do this? Forgive. Forgiveness means you give up the right to pull out those weapons made up of past offenses and failures. You don’t keep bringing up old junk.
Forgiveness doesn’t have to be a two way street (which is one of the reasons we usually don’t do it very well). You don’t have to wait for the other person to also forgive. You also don’t un-forgive them the moment they hurt you again.
This difficult practice can change everything. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” We have been forgiven by God, even though we didn’t deserve it. Maybe we need to share that same forgiveness with the people we are closest to?