It's hard to forget that we have been forgiven by the Lord. I mean, it's darn near impossible since that was Jesus's ultimate miracle on this Earth. Because of His sacrifice, all of our sins can be forgiven. The operative word in that last sentence: can.
Over an over during our Lord's life on Earth, he said, "Your sins are forgiven." Like when He forgave and healed the paralyzed man. Jesus forgave men over and over throughout his life, and in the end He sacrificed himself to allow for the forgiveness of all our sins.
But let me get back to this "can" bit. Just because Jesus died on the cross does not mean we ARE all forgiven. We cannot just sin over and over and over and get off scott-free... we must repent. I'm sure all of us are aware that when we do something wrong, we should take the steps to correct our wrong. We must ask forgiveness and change our ways. Mankind is sinful, but our greatest goal is to try to be as Christ-like as possible. This means forgiving others of their sins while realizing that each and every one of us sins... even against each other. So many of us forget the Lord's commandment for the forgiveness of others. Sure, it's in the Lord's prayer: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. But how many of us really make the daily effort to release grudges (or never start them at all), to forgive those who don't even ask for our forgiveness, to forgive people who have hurt us repeatedly and may not even care? In these situations, it's a challenge to forgive. I have found this to be an immense challenge... to say the least. I'm stubborn, defensive, and sensitive. I may wonder "Why should I forgive them when they don't even care about what they did?" Answer: That doesn't matter. It doesn't factor in. We have to rise above the sin itself... forgive and move forward.
Matthew 6:14-15 "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
Mark 11:25 "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Luke 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."
Colossians 3:13 "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."
In my mind, there are two main points to help us forgive others.
Number 1: Realize that refusing to forgive others only hurts you in the end.
This is important for many reasons. First of all, why would you hold a grudge and spend all that energy being mad when the other person may have forgotten about their offense 5 minutes after it happened? Maybe they will ask your forgiveness, maybe they won't. Either way, letting go of the stress and pain you are holding onto is the best solution. There's no reason to let someone else control your happiness and emotion... YOU have the power to forgive and to move on. The Lord teaches us that even the most harmful sins can be forgiven, so no matter how much someone hurt you it is possible to grant them your forgiveness. Tip: Start today by forgiving small transgressions and work your way up to granting the forgiveness that's the most challenging. It takes time, but we can learn to forgive all.
Number 2: Forgive does not equal forget.
Yes, forgiving others allows us to move on, but it doesn't mean we should act like it never happened. The important part is realizing the differences between these two actions. Forgiveness means to end your resentment and anger for an action against you. Forgetting means to end your remembrance of the event. You can use others' past actions to determine who you interact with them in the future. If someone has hurt you repeatedly, it would be foolish to trust them to never do it again unless they prove to you that they have changed. However, if you continue to resent that person, you have not truly forgiven them. The Lord teaches us to forgive others as He did. He has certainly set a perfect example for us to follow, so do your best to mirror His heart and His actions.
I'd like to share with you where I got the idea for this post. I will likely do a Bio on him soon, but tonight I will simply share a resource of his. Rick Warren is pastor of Saddleback Ministries and author of the well-known Purpose Driven Life series. He also has a Purpose Driven Connection daily email devotional. I look forward to getting mine each day. He frequently features other pastors and often writes series for the devotional. "When you are offended, choose to forgive" was a featured devotional by teacher pastor at Saddleback, Tom Holladay last week, which is where I got the idea to share this post with you.
Hope you enjoyed. Please share your thoughts and inspirations with us!
Tonight, I pray that the Lord helps give you the strength to forgive others and that he shows you those who need your forgiveness most. By following His example, we can remove resentment from our world and learn to live more like Christ everyday. By mirroring His example, others will be drawn to learn about the One who inspires us most. What a great motivation!
May God bless you all.