FORGIVE AS HE FORGAVE
By Steve Troxel
It seems like sooner or later everyone gets mistreated and hurt. Many times the actions against us are unintentional, but other times they can be extremely malicious. Suddenly, this hurt begins to invade every other area of our life. We carry a heavy burden which we know we don’t deserve – and which we certainly don’t desire to keep – but it’s a burden we can’t seem to let go.
There is only one true way to relieve the burden of our hurt, and it always begins with forgiveness. True forgiveness can be difficult and requires great humility. We want the other person to first ask (maybe even beg) for our forgiveness. We would like them to admit the hurt they caused; and, if we are honest, we probably would prefer them to suffer…just a little. But this is generally not God’s plan.
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)
If we have come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ, we have first come face to face with our sinful nature. Without an understanding that we are full of sin, we will never reach out for a savior. And if we have experienced the true meaning of God’s love, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), we will be compelled to reach out and love others. If we truly understand His forgiveness of us, can we really withhold our forgiveness of those who have caused us pain?
Jesus told a parable of a man who failed to forgive a small debt when his master had just forgiven him a much greater debt: “‘Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger, his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured until he should pay back all he owed” (Matthew 18:33-34). Do we really understand how much we have been forgiven, or our inability to repay? Yet our debt has been completely forgiven by grace through faith in Jesus, and we are now commanded to forgive others.
God established the standard for forgiveness. We are not called to forgive because someone deserves or has earned our forgiveness, we are called to forgive simply because God first forgave us. When we forgive, we must strive to make the forgiveness complete; “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12). Though we may carry a healthy level of new caution as the relationship continues, we must never place conditions on maintaining our forgiveness.
There WILL be times when we are burdened with hurt. But let’s not seek revenge or try to withdraw and hide our pain. Let’s follow the commands of God’s Word and be set free! Let’s grow closer to our Heavenly Father and see through His eyes. Let’s share His love and forgive as He forgave.
Have a Christ-centered day!