This is not the first time I have written on this subject and will not likely be the last. About two years ago I wrote a post you can read here, some of what I say in the current post will be repetitive. But, it can’t be said too much.
Jesus’ teaching, and that of his Apostles, set a very high standard for his followers regarding forgiveness. The disciples prayer, His answer to the question “How many times should we forgive…?”, and the ultimate model of forgiveness, his words from the cross “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing…”, all weigh heavily upon the duty of every Christ follower to be serious about forgiving others of their wrongs, real or imagined.
As I thought about this today at work and driving home, I was especially struck by Paul’s words in Colossians 3.
Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Paul said the same thing in his letter to the Ephesian brothers and sisters.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
“As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” and “forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Forgiveness is always possible.
Those who want to forgive can forgive. Don’t say things like, “I just can’t forgive him again…” or “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive her...”. Be honest and admit you have chosen to not forgive. It isn’t that you are unable to, it’s that you don’t want to. How crazy would it be for God to again and again tell us do something we can’t do? Yes, you not only can forgive, you must!
Start with an extreme makeover!
Get alone with God and refuse to come out until you have started to:
Have a compassionate heart. Ask God to give you compassion for the offender.
Be prepared to show kindness to the offender. You can do it!
Humble yourself. Never forget, sometime you will be the one in need of someone’s forgiveness.
Develop meekness. Get off your high horse! Who appointed you judge and jury?
Learn to be patient. As we say in Louisiana, “Put up with” him or her.
A personal inventory based on the Colossians passage leads to the high standard of the Ephesians passage.
Ask yourself a question and live out the answer.
The question is, “How has the Lord forgiven you?” Was your forgiveness based upon your goodness, your merit, your worth, your tears? What was it then?
… as God in Christ forgave you.
When you deserved it or didn’t deserve it? When you were good enough to earn it? Please! When you asked in the right way? When you made restitution? How then was it?
Oh, you know quite well if indeed you are in Christ and He is in you. All of your objections are squashed, you must forgive unconditionally, over and over, each time forgiveness is needed.
Forgiveness in shoe leather
You have forgiven someone when in your thoughts, in your words, and in your actions, you treat them as if you had never been wronged or offended, and you have God’s peace and are thankful.
Every believer can forgive others, (especially other Christians) must forgive others, there is no option but to shake your fist in God’s face and say “I refuse”.
Forgiveness is by faith, not by feelings.
To be people who are forgiving as a lifestyle as God desires we must lean heavily upon Him. We must trust him to love the unlovable through us, we must count on him to give unnatural compassion and patience to those we encounter. Every opportunity to trust God to help you forgive someone who my any measure is unworthy is an opportunity to give glory and honor to your Lord.
Do not go along with your feelings. Your feelings will lie to you over and over. There is a voice still crying out from the fallen part of us that resists that still, small voice in us, leading us to glory and victory over sin. Deny yourself and He will lift you up.
Let us become habitual forgivers!
Oct’ 06, 2011