Forgiveness is one of the hardest words in the English language to me. It’s one of the toughest things to do…to give. I think it should be a four-letter word, except, well, it has more than four letters, but whose counting?
How can one word be so difficult yet so freeing? Why is it expected to be given when it is so undeserved? It’s one of those things that my head knows I need to do, but I can’t seem to convince my heart to do what my mind knows to do.
When an offense comes against us and we find ourselves with a wounded spirit, refusing to forgive prevents our own healing. In fact, when we refuse forgiveness, in addition to the harm that has been done to us, we heap even more harm on ourselves. Anger settles in. Bitterness settles in. It’s like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die. Who would do such a foolish thing?
I think one of the reasons I struggle with forgiveness is because I often forget what forgiveness is, and what it is not.
Forgiveness is not:
· Ignoring, tolerating, or condoning another’s sin. In no way are we saying that what happened is okay or that the offender is right. We certainly do not want to become an enabler.
· It is definitely not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it requires great strength, often a supernatural one.
· It does not neglect justice.
· It is not always a call for reconciliation.
· Forgiveness does not mean that we cease to feel the pain.
· It is most definitely not a one-time event.
So then what is forgiveness?
· Letting go of the right to get even. Instead, we release the offender and the offense to a holy, righteous, and just God and allow Him to determine the course of action.
· Letting go of anger. We refuse to hold a grudge or play those grudge tapes in our minds.
· It is an act of humility as demonstrated by our Savior. It is not humiliation.
· It is an act of obedience.
· According to Matthew 6:14-15, it is necessary in order to walk in fellowship with our God.
· According to Mark 11:26, it is a prerequisite to prayer.
· When we have a wounded spirit from an offense, forgiveness is a major step in our healing.
· It is a process that requires discipline, resolve, and a steadfast determination to surrender all we have to our Heavenly Father.
Have you ever really listened to the words of Matthew West’s song, “Forgiveness”? I think he pretty much nails it! I know that I am to forgive, but too often my head knows to do what my heart doesn’t know how to do. Do you ever feel that way? What are we suppose to do when the hurt is so deep, so raw; how do we just let it go?
There was a time when God brought me to a place of realizing how precious forgiveness is. When I came face to face with the reality that I desperately needed the forgiveness that I had been denying another, I found myself in a season of profound regret and despair. During that time, I came to realize that when forgiveness seems impossible, I have another choice. I place my love for Jesus before my willingness to forgive. In other words, I choose to love Him more than my desire for justice, more than the pain of humbling myself, and more than my desire to wallow in my hurt. Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will obey Me” (John 14:15). Then He says that not only are we to forgive; we are to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44).
Jesus showed me in time, that the question was not whether the person who hurt me deserved forgiveness, His question to me was, “How much do you love me?” When I consider that question in the light of what He did for me at Calvary, what it cost Him so that I could be forgiven; I realize that I am to forgive in direct proportion to how much I have been forgiven. And when I do, I am set free.
Have a great week!
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