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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How Can I Forgive? - Learning How To Let Go Of Pain

In this fallen, sinful and broken world, being wronged by somebody is simply an inescapable fact of life. It’s happened to all of us at one time or another, whether intentional or not, and fact is, it will happen again. Sometimes it’s by strangers, or sometimes by someone in our circle of friends, or the worst of all is being hurt by our loved ones.

“How can I forgive her adultery?”

“How do I forgive him for cheating me on that deal?”

“How can I let go of the pain of being lied to?”

“I don’t know how to let go of the pain of betrayal.”

These are some very real questions you may be asking yourself, or maybe something similar. In our humanity these are very legitimate questions to ask, but let’s put a little perspective on it. What if Jesus, as He hung on the cross being wrongfully executed, had asked, “How can I forgive them for killing me?” He chose, instead, to submit to the will of the Father and asked forgiveness for those who were committing the ultimate wrong that can be committed on this earth against Him.

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them,
for they do not know what they do.
-Luke 23:34

Forgiveness is a command of Jesus, but we must CHOOSE to follow it. Forgiving is hard because it goes against our sinful flesh nature that wants to get even and be vindicated, but He set the example for us in a big-time way. I guess you could say he “talked the talk and walked the walk.” The sins committed against us by others pale in comparison to the sins we’ve committed against God. That was the point Jesus was making with the parable of the unforgiving servant. The servant was forgiven a huge debt by the king, but then would not forgive a fellow servant of a much smaller debt. As a consequence, when the king heard about it, he had the servant sent to prison. When we choose not to forgive, there are consequences for us, as well.

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone,
forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.
-Mark 11:25-26

Whoa! Wait a minute! I thought Jesus forgave ALL my sin? Well, He did, but these are red letters in my Bible, and it says what it says. Consider verse 26 with this perspective; if your heart is so hard that you won’t forgive, then have you really experienced the love and forgiveness of Jesus? How can you ask God to forgive you if you won’t forgive others? If you have truly experienced the freedom that comes with God's forgiveness, then how could you NOT forgive someone else? Your heart’s desire should be to forgive the specks in others’ eyes, knowing you’ve been forgiven the board in yours. Notice there are no conditions put on forgiving someone, either. It doesn’t mean that what they did was ok, but that you choose not to hold it against them anymore. For instance, if you forgive someone for lying to you, does that mean you will believe everything they say from then on? Not necessarily, but you overlook that lie and use discernment in the future. They don’t have to come apologize or ask for forgiveness, either. Forgiveness is grace- undeserved favor.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies,
kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another,
and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another;
even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts,
to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
-Colossians 3:12-15

Forgiveness is a hallmark of a devoted follower of Christ. It is an expression of love like no other, short of laying down one's life for another. I urge you, my brothers and sisters in the Lord, to let the perfect love of Christ live within you, being full of tender mercies, shining forth kindness and humility by His Spirit, and “pay it forward,” as they say, forgiving others in grace as you also have been forgiven, and may God's perfect peace reign in your heart.

And above all things have fervent love for one another,
for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
-1 Peter 4:8





 
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