Forgiveness Without Humility

What Does Forgiveness Look Like Without Humility?

The philosopher and theologian, Augustine of Hippo, once said that humility is so important that it shapes all other virtues. Without humility, he reasoned, all other virtues only look like virtues, but are not.

If this is correct, then what might forgiveness look like without humility?

Four answers come to mind:

1) Without humility one could become afraid, fearing rejection from the other as one tries to offer the olive branch of forgiveness. Forgiveness then is silent.

2) Without humility one could become arrogant, thinking of oneself as better than others because, “Oh, what a good and virtuous person am I.” Forgiveness then is loud.

3) Without humility one could become condemning of the other. After all, he or she hurt you and you will not stand for that. Forgiveness then is dismissing.

4) Without humility one could become entitled. If I go to the trouble of forgiving, then the other had better pay me back in some way, with remorse, an apology, and affection. Forgiveness then is demanding.

Forgiveness with humility levels the moral playing field and so we can move ahead despite possible rejection, in a quiet way to honor the other, in a loving way as we see the other as possessing inherent worth, and with gratitude knowing that it is a privilege to offer such a gift to another.

R.E.

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