I believe many of us have had terrible misconceptions about a powerful tool in our daily Christian life----FORGIVENESS!
This is a topic I have wanted to write about for quite sometime, but just never felt 100% peace about doing it until now. I pray it is something that encourages and challenges you as much as it has me over the last year especially!
How do you view forgiveness? Isn't it easy to view it in a way that it must be earned or it takes time, sometimes a long time? It's easy to say, "Well, look what they did to me, it's gonna be some time before forgiveness happens." We often hold those offenses with a tight grip as leverage for their next slip. We gather each offense and mull and stew over them in our minds, through our words, and often in our communication to others. Yet, do we never stop to look at the true model of Christ-like forgiveness? Christ-Himself!
The Lord ALLOWED a really tough thing into my life several years ago that caused me to research and beg God for a forgiveness like none other! My mind was wrapped around a misconception of forgiveness and I watched the Lord pull that down and create in me a desire to forgive as a choice and a blessing instead of viewing it as a chore, sacrifice, and ultimately a long road. People often said, it is going to take you a LONG time to forgive and move on, it doesn't happen over night, and many other things. Amidst a big trial and testing, those were not words of encouragement to my ears. So, I stopped asking others and ran to the Word of God seeking His road of forgiveness. Did you know, it's not a road? It is not something that takes years and years to do! It is not something that takes learning? And, it is something that can happen OVERNIGHT! You say, well, I disagree! Okay, you can, but don't forget to look at God's Word before you jump to your misconceptions of forgiveness as I had for so many years.
I ran to the passage on Christ's crucifixion and was reminded of the horrendous offense and horrible things we did to put Him upon the cross. Yet, He quickly looked to His Father and pleaded with Him to forgive us! He didn't hang His head and say, "Ah, well, too bad....this was so miserable, I'm gonna have to take a few years to think about forgiving you!" I am not trying to be disrespectful in any way, but I was almost slapped in the face for believing the fleshly prospective on how to forgive!
Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
Have you never read Jeremiah or Ezekiel or any other books that readily share the sins and constant running of the nation of Israel? I am in the middle of Ezekiel right now and constantly shocked at how often the Lord pleads with them to come back to Him and yet He continues to forgive them! Look at what David did...did God turn His back and say, "Forget you, you have sinned so badly, forgiving you is too hard!"? Sounds silly, doesn't it? I sure think so. And when I began to plug my name into the book of constant wrongs toward my Savior I was forced to my knees and humbled to a place that I had to change. I had to come to the point where I realized that not forgiving was my choice, and it was just as easy to chose to forgive and do so immediately! No matter what circumstance you are amidst and no matter what trial or burden you are bearing, when someone offends you in ANY way, God commands us to forgive!
Jer. 31:34... for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
Mark 11:26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
You ask, But how? You have no idea the hurt he/she has caused me! Nope, I don't know the hurt, but I do know someone who does! And, He never gives us more than we can handle! I was hurting too, so much that I thought nothing could take it away. Yet, when I got on my knees that night and begged God to forgive me for what I do so daily to hurt Him, He gave me a desire to forgive my offenders and to move on! What a joy to know that when we confess our sins He doesn't ball them up in His fists and remember them or add them to the mountain each time we fail. He puts those as far as the east is from the west! I don't know about you, but that is huge and an impossible feat to wrap my little head around.
Psalms 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
It's hard to look at that verse and understand how to do it, but I realized that looking to God as my example of true and righteous forgiveness was my first step. Now, may I say, forgiveness can come over night, but trust building is what takes time. I think we often get it into our minds that they both take time and it is a road to complete fixing. However, God's forgiveness proves to be much different. And, if that is the case, I'd like to get my forgiveness gauge lined up with His!
CHOSE to forgive and to move on! I am not saying this to brag on myself or ask for a pat on the back, nor am I saying the road since has been painless and easy! But, I give praise to the Lord for allowing something into my life to get me to realize that my mindset on forgiveness was completely distorted! And, God alone had to show me how to fix it!
While you may be amidst a custody battle, family immersed in pornography, abuse, gossip, or anything else that is causing you to face forgiveness or bitterness, may I, as your friend, plead with you to chose forgiveness?! It is so much easier AND it is so rewarding! God will, overtime, help you too to forget those offenses. That is not as easy as a task, but when we forgive as He desires, the forgetting gets so much easier!!
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
What a joy and hope to know that God forgives us the second we repent! Upon salvation He forgave us of our past, present and future faults! Yet, we like to hold those faults of others tight in our grasp and forsake them a true gift of forgiveness? So, if the tables were turned and the way you viewed forgiveness was how Christ viewed it, how would you feel? Would you ever be forgiven? Maybe we should start forgiving how Christ forgives us and watch Him give true joy and many blessings!
FYI: when you don't forgive----it's hurting you more....not the other person!
Let's CHOSE to forgive and stop trying to LEARN how!