Forgive?!? But what he/she did was REALLY bad…
Is forgiveness hard for you?
If you answered no, high five to you.
If you answered yes, I'm right there with you.
I would love to sit here and tell you that it's easy to forgive those that have hurt you... but let's keep it real... it's HARD! As in the brutal variety of hard. Especially when the person doesn't "deserve" forgiveness.
Over the past couple of weeks, the Lord has done some strong convicting on my lack of forgiveness. And then, low and behold, in the midst of my reading of Mark, the Lord once again brought forgiveness to the forefront of my unforgiving heart.
"But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too." Mark 11:25
When we look at this verse, we have to look at it through the lens of either the Bible is always true or it is never true.
The Bible is not situational.
It's black and white.... it's either the inerrant Word of God or it isn't.
Because I UNEQUIVOCALLY believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and is ALWAYS true, I must take forgiveness seriously.
What does forgiveness look like through the heart of a believer?
To fully grasp biblical forgiveness, we have to look at both what it is and what it isn't.
Forgiveness is completely letting go of negative feelings.
That means you have no bitterness or hatred towards the person. Forgiveness means you don't harbor even slight negative feelings about the person.
You may be thinking, but Abby, you don't know what I've been through. I can't forgive ______________.
You are right that I don't know your specific situation, but I do know that God tells us to forgive, and while we can't forgive in our own strength, He can.
God is big enough to do a work in me to forgive the man who killed my family.
Would God have ever been able to work through me had I not been able to forgive?
God will NEVER ask us to do anything that He is not big enough to do through us.
Forgiveness requires forgetting.
True forgiveness does not keep a record of the infraction. It requires turning over to the Lord that which is too heavy for you to carry.
If you replay the infraction over and over again in your mind, you cannot forgive.
These can be BIG things or small annoyances.
This is where 2 Corinthians 10:5 guides us...
"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
You can never have true peace until you truly forgive.
Forgiveness is NOT a one and done.
Wouldn't it be great to offer forgiveness and be done with it?
God knows our human flaws, and He knows that we require a lot of forgiveness.... and He requires that we also extend that forgiveness abundantly.
"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy times seventy!'" Matthew 18:21-22
Forgiveness is NOT condoning bad behavior.
When you forgive someone, you are not saying their behavior is acceptable. You are not giving them permission to continue that behavior towards you.
Forgiveness is about grace.
I will never think that the behavior of the man who killed my family was acceptable. It wasn't. But I can still forgive.
The man will never know that I forgave him because he died that day too. Though the man will never know, I know. God knows. And God grants me peace that passes all human understanding because of it.
It's through this situation that I've come to understand forgiveness is as much for us as it is the person receiving it.
Forgiveness allows us to move forward.
Forgiveness allows us to know abundant joy!
Forgiveness is NOT putting yourself back in harmful situations.
When you forgive someone, you are not required to be around them again.
There are things that we are called to forgive that are dangerous and toxic and evil. We are NOT required to put ourselves in those situations again.
To be honest, I didn't want to write this post. I started it. I deleted it. I started again. I pray God takes my imperfect explanation of His perfect Word and uses it to draw you closer to Him.