“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
Out of the Past, Into the Future
Many years ago, I was hurt, wounded, and bitter. Early on in my life I had the wind knocked out of me by two churches I was working for. My story was like so many who entered full-time church staff work as a young man. I experienced the pain of losing my job not once, but twice. I had to learn how to forgive.
And do you know what?
The people that hurt me were not only people I respected, but people I’d grown to love and serve. And that was why the pain of that moment felt so personal. A critical spirit entered my life and even to this day I still have struggled with the pain of those moments in the past.
But for my sake, I had to move forward into the future. My past is what it is. I cannot undo the damage done there, I can only learn from it. And forgiveness is how I was able to move forward.
Why We Don’t Forgive
There is a lot that happens to us when we suffer unjustly. Our pride is hurt. Our livelihood is threatened. Our character is questioned. Our track record is tainted. And all for nothing, so it seems.
You were wronged. Legitimately. Don’t pretend that it didn’t happen.
Even God doesn’t forget our sins…He chooses to remember them no more. (Hebrews 8:12) Forgetting what has happened to you doesn’t fix the bitterness that you still hold inside. Choosing not to remember, choosing not to hold against someone the wrong they’ve dealt you takes a depth of character and maturity that many of us struggle to find.
Here’s why we don’t forgive:
We think that we deserve better and we think that holding on to our pride is enough to vindicate us from the wrong we’ve been dealt.
Praying “As We Forgive Our Debtors”
Our debtors. Who are our debtors? These are the people who have wronged us, who owe us something, or who we know we can never trust again.
And Jesus includes them in His model prayer.
Do you see the significance of this?
He says, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
Read that line again.
Do you see it?
Jesus is saying that “in the same measure that we forgive those who have wronged us, Father, forgive us.” This is a tall order.
Do you think that you can forgive those who have hurt you? You don’t realize the depths at which your sin has wounded the heart of your Father.
Ponder on this Today
- Relationships matter. The people God has put into your life for you to interact with, to live around, to work with, to play with, or just to be with…those people matter. Not only do people matter, they are your tangible opportunity to live out and practice the ways of the Kingdom with.
- Forgiveness models Jesus. Our target is Jesus. We model our lives after Him. We follow His example. We want to be “little Christ’s” wherever we go. If that is true, then we have to begin to realize that the way Jesus forgave us, the way Jesus forgave those who caused Him the greatest pain…that is the way we are supposed to live.
- Our Spiritual Health is in the Balance. If we cannot find it in ourselves to forgive those who’ve hurt us, then we cannot fully receive forgiveness for our own frailty and sin. The mark of un-forgiveness is our own pride. A true follower of Jesus will know the weight of his or her own sinful humanity and cry out to God for forgiveness. This is difficult. That is why we must know what grace is.
- Grace finds a way in. Grace is that act by which God gives us what we don’t deserve. Forgiveness is not something earned or deserved. It is something given, like a gift. The ultimate act of grace and forgiveness was the cross of Jesus Christ. There, our sins were atoned for, our lives of brokenness were transformed, and we found hope for this life and the next. If we have received so great a gift as forgiveness, then the least we can do is forgive those who’ve wronged us. Only when we understand how much we’ve been forgiven of can we turn around and give that grace to someone else who’s hurt us.
Where are you today on this topic? Have you been hurt or wounded by someone recently? How have you dealt with the pain they poured out on you? Are you still holding on to unforgiveness?
Did you know that forgiving someone doesn’t mean forgetting? It means choosing not to hold their sin against them. And also remember that there are consequences of being hurt by people. You may have to set up boundaries with people who’ve hurt you. But if they’ve only done it once, give them another chance. If someone continually causes you grief, you can forgive them, but you have to guard your own heart. You have to set up boundaries.
Practice forgiveness today. Your relationship with God is vital. Don’t allow a heart of bitterness to keep you from His heart today.
Feel free to comment below if today’s lesson helped. The phrase we study tomorrow will be, “Lead us not into temptation.”