27 Sep FORGIVENESS
“Forgive and forget.”
“Just hug it out.”
“There is no use, they will just keep hurting you.”
“They don’t care about what they have done.”
“They can never repay what they have done to me.”
Most of us have heard some of these phrases before and maybe even thought them ourselves. But are they true? Are they biblical? No, they are not.
So what is your motivation for not forgiving someone? Here are some things to consider: unforgiveness is not motivated by what honors God, or by what is best for others, but instead by what is expedient for ourselves. Holding on to unforgiveness creates the temptation of grudges and resentment. When we do this, we tend to think that we have power over someone – which is a false sense of control – and is often caused by pride (which can become our identity). We believe we can use it as a weapon and pull the trigger whenever we feel threatened, and that we can act like God giving out consequences for others’ mistakes. Aren’t we becoming blind to ourselves by attempting to enact judgement on others?
To understand what forgiveness is, it’s important to understand what it is not. Extending forgiveness does not mean having a forced relationship with a person who has hurt you. It does not mean that what was done to us is okay, and it does not mean the offender has permission to hurt us again. It does not depend on the whether or not the offender says they are sorry, and it does not mean we forget what was done. It is not reconciliation to the offender.
Forgiveness is about me and God. It is a choice, not an emotion. It is a process. It grows from a deepening relationship with the Lord – a surrender to a powerful God that is bigger than anything you have done or anything anyone has done to you. When I extend forgiveness to others, I am being obedient to God. It is an act of grace mirroring the character of God – truly giving someone something they do not deserve. Because forgiveness is an act of obedience, it brings glory to God. But it is a progressive journey, wherein we continually submit our hearts to God and release the offender over to Him. Forgiveness is choosing to give away the hurt, bitterness, anger, sadness, and bondage over to God – breaking the power the sin of unforgiveness can have over us.
It’s important to allow yourself to experience the emotion of the hurt that you endured and to process through it with supportive and loving people. We have to acknowledge what was done to us and what was taken away from us. Jesus Himself felt the emotional and physical hurt that can be caused by others as we see in Luke 17:25, “But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation,” and also in Mark 14:34, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”
I have been wounded deeply, mistreated, abused, ignored, and unloved. So has Jesus. Jesus knows our pain and He wants us to acknowledge that He is there with us. It wasn’t fair what happened to me, and it wasn’t fair what happened to Jesus. He grieves with us for what was done against us. When Jesus heard of His friend Lazarus’ death and saw the grief of his sisters,“Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Hebrews 4:15 again shows us the compassion of Jesus, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Carrying the burden of unforgiveness as a means to justify my anger or bitterness is not useful. It will not accomplish anything except to destroy my heart and steal life and joy. Christ desires for us to lay down our burdens and hurts through faith (believing Jesus’ blood is enough to pay for what happened) and forgiveness. Trusting God and being obedient to what God has for me, allows me to make room for the Lord by removing this sin of unforgiveness that is between Him and me. Deciding that we want freedom and that we are in bondage emotionally to what was done to us is the key. This is a process where we surrender control to the Lord. It’s our choice when we are ready. This is where God grows our faith as we trust His justice over our desire to seek revenge. Otherwise, we are allowing the hurt and choices done to us to continue to hurt us and re-victimize us, keeping us trapped!
The Lord has a plan to free us from theses burdens. He truly cares, deeply for us and our freedom. He wants us to come to Him with the wounds of our life and heart, the baggage we carry because of what we have endured, and to step toward Him in receiving grace and freedom by trusting that Jesus has died for each of these things done to us. He sent His Son, as a man, here on earth to know what it is like to be us. He has experienced everything we have experienced, so we can relate to Jesus. He has paid the price; therefore, we do not have to hold someone else accountable to pay the price of our sin, our loving, gracious Father has paid it ALL. Hebrews 9:22 says, “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” God is the only one who atoned for sin, He alone forgives sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
When Jesus died and ascended to heaven, He sent us His Spirit. Jesus promised the Spirit as a guide, teacher, and comforter to those who believe, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18) When we don’t know what to say or do, the Spirit is with us always as believers, to help give us wisdom and understanding. Are we yielding to the Spirit or are we making our own way? Romans 5:5 says, “Hope does not put us to shame (or disappoint), because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” We have the hope of God when we face forgiveness, as we acknowledge what Christ has done for us, justifying us and giving us a hope and a future – and a Helper.
Experiencing God’s love is supernatural, it is not like the love of man. We can not make it happen, or woo God, the Holy Spirit makes it happen. Surrendering under God’s love for us is where we can begin to surrender our heart and allow the Holy Spirit to pour into us and lead us forward onto the path of freedom. Can we truly believe this and surrender our pain to Him?
Allow God to work in places that are dark, broken, and grieved. Allow God to have control, letting Him have the reigns. Ask yourself, “Am I allowing God to be God, or am I trying to control and be my own god?” Remember this- our God is just: 1 John 1:9 says, if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He is JUST. We are not, it is his nature to be just. Our justice and his is two different things. Would you be able to forgive yourself for what you have done, Jesus has willingly laid his life down for these things. Do you know anyone able to love so sacrificially? He loves you, He delights in you!
When I was able to see that those who have hurt me, even those who have abused me, were people that God loved – people that turned away from God, who had sinned against Him, I was able to have compassion for them for the first time. Seeing them as sinners, in need of a Savior, helped me to see them the way God does. Walking through this process, I was able to forgive someone who hurt me deeply. I was able to forgive because my relationship with the Lord has grown deep and He has opened my eyes to more of who He is. Jesus’ blood covers all of us (even our enemies or those against us). God forgives sin, why can’t I?
Forgiving others starts with accepting forgiveness from God. We are sinners in need of forgiveness. Jesus called on His Father to forgive those who hung Him on a cross. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Do we recognize our own faults? Can we have the soft hearts and eyes to see others the way God does? Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person or situation have had in your life. I love this quote by Louie Giglio, “Don’t let your scars define you, let the scars of Jesus define you!”
So what is your motivation for forgiveness? Is it reconciliation to someone you care about? Obedience to God by acting on the acceptance of forgiveness He has extended to you – freedom from guilt? I invite you to talk to God and allow Him show you where there may be resentment or unforgiveness. Ask Him to help you see just what has been done for your own freedom, and see if you can extend that forgiveness to someone in your life soon.
Let us all live the life Christ died for – FREE!