Forgiveness is the act of forgiving; to give up the wish to punish or get even. To forgive is not that simple. Sometimes it takes years to forgive a hurtful word or an act of abuse. Most of the time, we will mask our pain and try to carry on our lives as though nothing is wrong.
However, when we are reminded of that word or hurt, we rise up in anger which shows that forgiveness has not yet found a home in our hearts.
The agony, the pain, the discomfort, the struggling that occurs within can be
unforgiveable. It can be a noose around our neck. It can strangle and victimize us. An unforgiving heart drains energy from us when we hold that word or act alive in our beings.
Forgiveness or the lack of forgiveness is universal. Anyone who has ever lived will at sometime have to forgive or be forgiven. Therefore, forgiveness is enormous. Forgiveness or the lack of it affects us in countless areas of our lives.
What about us when we hold seeds of resentment within our own hearts and lives. It isn’t that easy to say, “I am sorry. Will you forgive me?” There is no magical potion or snap of the fingers to whisk our pain away. It is an active process and must be combated with love.
It took weeks and months to pour our pains and hurts into a cauldron of bitterness. We aren’t really sure what triggers our senses to feel horrible or why the tears well up in our eyes. We remember something. Rev. Karyl Huntley states, “You know you have forgiven someone when he or she has harmless passage through your mind.” How true that is!
Who did you wrong? Parents, spouses, children, friends, bosses, co-workers, and the list could go on and on. Did you know that the one who hurt you - OWNS you? Wouldn’t it be nice if that person came and ask forgiveness? However, we must accept the fact that may never happen. That is their choice. They will, as we will, answer to God; and they will, as we will,
live with the consequences of choices in word and deed. Remember, forgiving is a process. It just doesn’t happen in three simple steps.
The process of forgiving is oftentimes long and difficult. It is full of pain and
misgivings, betrayal and abandonment, heartache and grief. Someone has said, “Forgiveness
takes the poison out of your body. It cleanses your body of the poison that will fester and
cause illness and misery. You cannot take the poison and expect the other person to die. They
will go on with their life and you will be the one to suffer.”
Forgiveness is a simple word in the English language, but so complex when we apply hurts and pains to the ingredients of life. Forgiveness is a gift to you. It is not something you do for someone else. It is for you. A lack of forgiveness makes your own life miserable. It creates bitterness within you and claims another victim.
Please consider the new relationships we often have. Are we ever fully present and available in our new relationships? Until we deal with forgiveness, we are enslaved to what chains us in the past. We all have said either audibly or inwardly, “After what they did to me. Forgive them. Never!” If we are always at war with others, we cannot be at peace with ourselves. It does not take strength to let go…. it takes courage. Forgiveness expands or contracts in direct proportion to our courage to forgive.
Forgiveness is a dynamic expression of who God is. He is our model to follow. If we pattern our lives after Him, we will never be disappointed. Psalm 86:5 says, “For you, O Lord, are good and ready to forgive, and abundant in loving kindness to all who call upon you. God is ready to forgive, and His love extends to all who call upon Him.”
There is so much to be said of God’s forgiveness which cannot be written here, but forgiveness can be received and it can be extended to others. God the Father and Jesus His Son modeled that through His death on the cross, but it does not stop there. In the Old Testament, forgiveness was granted on the basis of shedding an animal’s blood. Through one man [Adam]
sin entered the whole world. We inherited sin and death from Adam. [Romans 5:12]. We all have sinned [Romans 3:23; 6:23]. No amount of goodness can cleanse sin from us [Romans 3:10; Ephesians 2:8, 9]. Just as Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, God made a way of pardon for them. He made garments of skin from an animal. Our first recorded blood sacrifice [Genesis 3:21]. Love and forgiveness are tied together in actions and attitudes.
God forgives us because of His great mercy toward us [Ephesians 2:5]. He extends undeserved grace and forgiveness to us. God forgiveness is seen throughout the Old Testament and New Testament as sacrifical love. In Christ, we have life, righteousness, pardon and redemption through His death on the cross. This, in turn, releases us from the bondage of sin [Ephesians 2:4-10; Romans 6, 7, 8]. In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin. He forgave us all our sins [Ephesians 1:7].
Forgiveness involves both attitudes and actions, as seen in Romans 12:19-21:
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves…. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he
is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. [Compare
Proverbs 25:21, 22] Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome [master] evil
with good [Amplified Bible]. “But God--so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to
satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which he loved us” [Ephesians 2:4, Amplified]. This explains God’s attitudes and actions toward us.
God forgiveness is received by faith. There is absolutely nothing we can do to merit
forgiveness. We can eagerly receive it by faith as a free gift of our salvation and it has nothing to
do with our good deeds. Colossians 1:14 states, “In whom we have our redemption through His
blood, [which means] the forgiveness of sins.” [Amplified]. Redemption means that God paid the purchase price by allowing His Son to die on the Cross. We are forgiven, justified, freed, redeemed, and declared righteous. Forgiveness is life-changing. Let the Redeemed
of the Lord say so!
The Hebrew and the Greek words for forgiveness are powerful. The Hebrew words in the Old Testament convey these images: to cover or atone, to carry or take away; to pardon. In the New Testament, the Greek words convey images of: to be gracious, to dismiss or send away, remission, release or freedom. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are so compatible because each talks of atonement and pardon. It is seen in God’s great love for us and how He exercises His love in various ways to forgive and restore us to Him.
God’s writers give the account of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis 50:15-21, to show us how Joseph extended forgiveness to them. His words to his brothers were, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” What a testimony of forgiveness in action. God demonstrates that action to us as well. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” We were enemies, sinners and hostile toward God, yet in His great love for us, He forgave us, pardoned and made us heirs of His kingdom, and not only that, He sustains us in this life with His love and mercy. How awesome
In Luke 7:36-50, Luke writes about an especially wicked woman who came to Simon’s
house, and when she saw Jesus sitting there she wet Jesus’ feet with her tears, and wiped those
tears with her hair, kissed his feet and put perfume on them. Simon was outraged and Jesus through a parable told him this: “Therefore, I tell you, her sins, many [as they are] are forgiven
her--because she has loved much. But he who is forgiven little loves little.” Those words
alone are powerful. Let us remember what Jesus said on the Cross dying for our sins, “Father
forgive them for they know not what they do.” Love and forgiveness in action! How much do
we love and how much do we forgive?
Practicing forgiveness is a method that trains our minds, engages our hearts, and transforms our behavior. To practice forgiveness we must look at Colossians 3:1-3; 5-11;
* Set our hearts on things above where Christ is
* Set our minds on things above, not on earthly things.
And since we are God’s chosen people, holy, dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. All the words below are action words and we are to:
* Bear with each other
* Forgive whatever grievances you may have against each other
* Readily pardoning each other as the Lord has freely forgiven you, so must you also forgive.
* Put on love which bonds together completely in harmony.
* Allow God’s peace to rule in your hearts as an umpire continually
* Be thankful, giving praise to God always
* Let God’s Word dwell in you richly, making its home in your hearts and minds
as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence in
spiritual things, and as you sing--making melody in your hearts.
We cannot hold bitterness in our hearts and minds if God’s Word is active there. If we
are daily clothing ourselves in God’s fruits of the Spirit, we will be moved to eradicate anything
that would keep us from experiencing true forgiveness and receiving forgiveness. Remember,
the choices we make to forgive or not to forgive will dictate our course of action. As time passes, the intensity of the hurt lessens as well. Yes, we will always remember, but it does not have to grip us and hold us at bay. Francios De La Rochefoucald said, “One pardons to
the degree that one loves.” Isn’t that true of God the Father? “Above all things have intense
and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others].” Practicing forgiveness is a discipline when we apply His truths and promises to our lives.