Have you ever had to forgive someone and it seemed impossible? I’m not talking about the person who bumped into you at Starbucks as you were reaching for your latte. Or the person who cut in front of you at the grocery store. I’m not even talking about the woman with the guts to pull in front of you and take your parking place. I am referring to the person who never should have hurt you, let you down, forget you, mistreat you, deny you what you deserved. The one who disappointed you, looked past you, even betrayed you.
As you read these words and they soak into your soul, you can see the persons face. The memory of the event can feel like it happened yesterday. Feelings and emotions surge as you recall the incident. This person does not deserve to be forgiven!
Yet, forgive we must!
This type of forgiveness calls for us to act contrary to our human nature. It takes a power much greater than we possess on our own. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit living in us, can we forgive when it is unmerited!
We do not forgive because someone deserves to be forgiven. We simply forgive because we have been forgiven!
When Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross as a perfect, sinless, sacrificial lamb of God,
He showed us how to forgive.
“Jesus said, Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”
Jesus died on the cross for my sins and yours. He was wrongly accused, beaten and crucified and still FORGIVES! Jesus knows that by not forgiving we are held captive to the unforgiveness and all that comes with it.
The phrase in the Greek implies that it was repetitive! When Jesus was saying these words He was repeating them over and over again!
I do not know what pictures and memories came into your mind as you were first reading my opening words. But the people that popped into my mind did hurtful things to me that pierced deep and left a mark! I knew I needed to forgive them because Jesus has forgiven me. But I needed to do it one day at a time, over a period of time, out of obedience, repeating their name and the phrase, “I forgive ___________.” There were times this process took longer than others. But each and every time God was faithful to give true forgiveness to my heart, spirit and peace in my soul!
How wonderful and encouraging it is to know that Jesus Himself used a similar process.
FORGIVENESS DOESN’T MAKE THE OTHER PERSON RIGHT, IT MAKES YOU FREE.
We forgive because we have been forgiven! We did not deserve it, but Jesus gave it to us freely! We are to forgive others freely so that we can be set free and have reconciliation.
In this tumultuous time that we are living through, what a difference we could make if we would forgive. I believe that God demonstrates for us that RECONCILIATION is not possible without FORGIVENESS!
Jesus forgave the people who did not think like Him, act like Him, speak the same language as Him, and who mistreated and even killed Him!
Corrie ten Boom suffered the loss of family, torture and mistreatement in a concentration camp, only because she was “different!” She is quoted saying;
“Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.”
Corrie ten Boom
Powerful words from someone who gave forgiveness when it was not deserved.
Martin Luther King is most well known for His ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. His life was threatened time and time again, he had hate language and words yelled at him and his family. He was imprisoned, beat and bruised and eventually killed. But I love his quote on forgiveness even more than his famous speech because he lived it out.
“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.”
Martin Luther King
Powerful words again from someone who gave forgiveness when it was not deserved.
These heroes of the faith, along with many others, were able to forgive because they had been forgiven! They lived the Truth of the New Testament…
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.”
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”
“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
Friends, our world needs RECONCILIATION on every level. If we are willing to forgive we may see things made right, right before our very eyes!
Speak Truth Love