a word to share: forgiveness

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.


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6 Comments

Filed under forgiveness

6 responses to “a word to share: forgiveness

  1. Excellent post! Thanks for going with this word.

    I have one point of disagreement that is probably just semantics (how we define/use terms differently from one another). You wrote, *The phrase, “I just could never forgive him for that,” can not be spoken by a saved follower of Christ.* It can and often is spoken by a saved follower. (This is where you likely will disagree with me!)

    I doubt you believe this is the “unpardonable” sin. But then again, that is what this statement makes it. Maybe you do believe it is, since it works logically, but does it really work relationally with God? Do we really want to set up an in/out scenario? (I’m saved today because I can forgive/I’m lost tomorrow because I cannot forgive, yet.)

    A God-imaging child cannot live her/his life with unforgiveness. The big-picture story of the Bible is God providing avenues for forgiveness. Saying this statement does not consign me to being unsaved. Living it as my life’s philosophy cuts me off from God’s forgiving nature. In the dark way of unforgiveness I become an empty shell of the person I am destined to be in Christ. God will keep calling me to forgive. God will keep confronting me with my desperate need for forgiveness and reminding me of my unforgiveness.

    This is perhaps the hardest of all of Jesus’ teachings. It is repeated in many contexts because it may be our greatest of hurdles.

  2. john, i agree with you. but i also agree with my statement. i think. but more with you than with me.

    what i was trying to demonstrate with my (admittedly) poorly written sentence is that this individual doesn’t see any instance in which forgiveness could ever be offered. nor are they open to that work being done in their life, despite the fact that they know it should. i see the statement as a defeatist sentence in which God’s power is not respected or acknowledged.

    but you’re definitely right that i don’t want to make this statement the test of salvation; nor do i believe an inability to forgive others is the unpardonable sin. the sentence would be much better written as, “the phrase… SHOULD not be spoken…”

    • * but i’m leaving it the way it was originally published for the sake of discussion (and for these comments to make sense)…

    • You wrote, “this individual doesn’t see any instance in which forgiveness could ever be offered” and I agree. Also, I believe this is at the core of the issue–they don’t see. Their capacity to envision a new possibility must be expanded. The depths of their own sin and the vastness of Christ’s forgiveness have not yet taken adequate root in their heart to produce the fruit of forgiveness–and that is tragic! But the good news of the gospel is that Papa God is tenacious in his pursuit of them!

  3. Eagle

    I’ll get back to this post. I need to get to bed. But this blog actaully had some good stuff to say about forgiveness which is not discussed.

    http://evangelicalinthewilderness.blogspot.com/2010/12/forgiveness-hard-questions-which-are.html

  4. Pingback: profound statements – part three « your best life later

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