You know the one - the servant that we read about in Matt. 18:23-34 - the one that was forgiven yet he refused to give forgiveness himself? Of all the nerve! I sure don’t want to be like that guy, and I’m sure that you don’t either! So let’s take a closer look together at forgiveness to be certain that all our i’s are dotted and our t’s are crossed.
We’ll begin with being forgiven…
Do we accept the Lord’s forgiveness through His shed blood, and take Him up on His offer of a restored relationship with Him?
then what right do we have to be unforgiving to someone that has wronged us?
If you are currently dealing with someone that is on your mind with this, and are thinking to yourself, "But this isn't something that they have just done in the past - now is also an issue,"
you’re not alone.
It’s really difficult, isn’t it? But it can help us to think of it this way:
Are all of our sins just in the past?
Will Jesus forgive us for our present and future misdeeds?
Isn't His mercy wonderful?! He doesn't have a “three strikes you’re out” attitude.
No! Nothing could be further from the truth.
So what is our attitude in light of His forgiveness, since we know that He is waiting with arms stretched out wide ready to forgive us, anxiously desiring to bring us back into fellowship with Him, no matter how reprobate we have been?
Doesn’t His love, mercy, and grace make us want to please Him? And we know that He called us to forgive (Matt. 18:22) and love others as He has loved us (John 13:34), and to top it off, we have the power of His Spirit living inside of us to help us accomplish what we need to do.
Yes, we should hold others accountable;
yes we should set boundaries.
iron sharpens iron (Prov. 27:17).
Forgiving and condoning are not synonyms.
- Forgiveness doesn’t remove consequences. It’s a given that when one sows sinful seeds, eventually they will reap costly consequences.
- Forgiveness doesn’t remove our memory.
- Forgiveness doesn’t erase painful emotions, although it goes a long way towards aiding the healing process.
- Forgiveness doesn’t rebuild trust.
- Forgiveness doesn’t always put a relationship back in tact. Sometimes it is necessary to shield our families and ourselves.
People often don’t seem to realize these points, but when we define what forgiveness is and isn’t, it helps us to be more willing and capable.
To forgive is to pardon, to take away. When we truly forgive, we release the one that has wronged us from any debt.
In Gen. 50, Joseph gives us a picture of forgiveness.
In spite of all that his brothers did to him, he didn't hold a grudge; he wasn’t resentful, bitter, or angry. On the contrary. Scripture tells us that Joseph fed them, comforted them, and spoke kindly to them. What a disparity between him and the servant in Matthew! I want to follow Joseph’s example, how about you?
On a personal note,
I am finding that the more intensely my heart gets broken, the more I discover the depth of God's love and forgiveness toward us.
As I struggle with the pain of another’s actions that causes me to feel shattered,
the more I realize how much our sins breaks the Lord's heart.
When I wonder "how could _______ do such awfulness…”
my awareness sharpens in understanding the sacrifice God made for us
in spite of how we treat Him.
And aren't those realizations a good thing?
With that said, could it be that God is using these trials to help me more fully comprehend the depth of His amazing love?
Anything that catapults us to the Lord's loving arms works for our good, no matter how painful it may be.
As Joseph said in Genesis chapter 50, "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive."
Forgiveness requires an act of our will.
It is a decision.
It isn't necessarily a one time thing, either.
The reality is, we may have to apply additional forgiveness, over and over again,
just as Hosea did with Gomer.
When that is the case,
it is key to
avoid linking new wrongs to past offences that we have already forgiven.
God knows, that one is difficult for me.
So I will remember: