During my prayer time today, I was given a single word to share on my blog. That word was forgiveness. I don’t know for whom it was intended — or if perhaps it was for several of us? I’m not sure. But I fully intend to be obedient by sharing it here today.*
Maybe someone wronged you, and you’ve been stingy in offering pardon. Perhaps you’ve already forgiven someone for hurting you, but you’ve never expressed that forgiveness. Maybe you have no intentions of ever forgiving that individual. It could have been your friend, your father, your spouse… I don’t know. But I’ve got two scriptures to share with you:
Support each other and and forgive whatever wrongs have occurred (and do occur). Forgive just as the Lord forgave you. — Colossians 3:13 (my translation)
Reason #1 to forgive: God has forgiven you. Deserved or not (not is the answer there), God has been faithful to pardon us, and we should be like him in our actions.
If you forgive others when they hurt you, God will forgive you of your sins. But if you do not forgive others their sins against you, your Father will in turn refuse to forgive you. — Matthew 6:14-15 (my translation)
Reason #2 to forgive: God’s future forgiveness is directly tied to our ability to forgive others. If we do not forgive others their sins against us, our own sins will not be forgiven by God.
Many of us don’t like this because we don’t like our forgiveness tied to obedience to God’s commands. We’ve become convinced that God offers his mercy and grace regardless of our actions, based on faith alone. And then we define faith as something that doesn’t necessarily involve right behavior. But this whole idea (definition and all) isn’t supported by the New Testament. Like it or not, if you don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive you.
It sounds like I’m trying to guilt people into forgiveness; I’m not. But I am suggesting that if we don’t have the kind of hearts that will forgive others when we’re wronged, we’ve got some more growing to do. We need to be further discipled by Jesus Christ. The phrase, “I just could never forgive him for that,” can not be spoken by a saved follower of Christ.
I’m not suggesting there’s a magical way to suddenly forgive someone and erase all hurt. But there is a place to begin that process — and that’s the minimum of what’s expected. If you’re far from offering to another your hand in forgiveness and as a symbol of pardon, spend some time talking with God about what’s happened. Start there. And be obedient to that which you receive. Your heart will be changed, I’m convinced of that.
* I never know exactly how to go about sharing these words. In some cases, I’ve offered nothing other than the word itself — and allowed the recipient to ascertain its meaning(s). Today, though, I decided (as you can see) to expound a bit on the idea. I hope that’s alright.