We are saved by grace, and as Christ-followers we have the great privilege of living in grace. Because of the grace God has given us, we are to freely extend grace to others. When someone hurts us and our natural inclination is to harbor anger and seek revenge, we are called to extend forgiveness. Forgiving doesn’t mean we minimize the hurt and act as though it didn’t matter. It did hurt and cause pain, but we must let go and not hold it against the one who hurt us. Forgiveness doesn’t always mean reconciliation. When trust has been broken, it takes time to restore. Forgiveness is the first step toward reconciliation, but it’s a process, and sometimes trust cannot ever be restored. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. It’s a nice saying, but we can’t truly forget a hurt that has wounded us deeply. However, remembering how God brought us through the hurt and realizing that he took away the pain is a reason to give thanks. Perhaps our lives were changed through that hurt and it did ultimately bring about good in our life. Forgiveness is unconditional. We can’t say that we’ll forgive “if” the person jumps through certain hoops. No, forgiveness comes without strings attached. Just as we didn’t have to attain a certain standard for God to forgive us, we are to give others that same grace.
Scriptures – Ps 37:8; Pr 4:23; Mt 6:14-15; 10:8; 18:21-22; Lk 6:27-28; 7:47; Ro 8:28, 12:19; 1 Co 13:5; Ep 4:32
“Give as freely as you have received!” (Mt 10:8) Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ep 4:32) Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do. (1 Co 13:5) Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, but seventy times seven!” Refrain from anger and give up your rage; do not be agitated—it can only bring harm. (Ps 37:8) Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it. (Ro 12:19)
Forgiveness is freeing. Even though we don’t feel a person deserves forgiveness, neither did we when God forgave us. Harboring hurt causes permanent damage to ourselves. Although, we want justice, God says that he will repay those who deserve it. When we forgive, we are free from the bitterness that results from holding on. When we forgive we move to higher ground because only the love of God can strengthen us to truly forgive. Immersing our lives in God’s love and grace moves us to a new level. Often times forgiveness is not one and done. We may have to forgive the same person for the same offense time and time again. And we must continually turn to God when something triggers an old hurt and we feel the negative emotions rising up again. We are human, and it is such an inconvenience! ☺ The bottom line is, we forgive because we have been forgiven, not because it’s deserved but because it’s all about grace!
Has anyone ever asked your forgiveness when you weren’t aware that they had done anything wrong? Has anyone ever refused to listen to your request for forgiveness or denied you? Is there anyone that hurt you and never admitted or asked for forgiveness, but you have an ongoing relationship with them? How does that work? Do you have a harder time forgiving yourself or others? What great forgiveness have you witnessed, other than salvation? (either in your own life of that of another person)
If you are plagued by hurt and anger, ask God to help you forgive? Think about what next steps you need to take to be free from the pain. Pray with and seek the counsel of a trusted Christian friend. If you need to ask someone’s forgiveness, do it! Don’t assume that because it’s been buried, it’s forgotten.
Lord Jesus, help me to live, love and forgive as your child who has been given the greatest second chance every imagined. Thank you for your great grace. Help me to extend grace to those around me, so that they may see your love in me. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.