Today, Jews all other the world are celebrating their most important holiday. Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement. This day reminded me of the remarkable gift of forgiveness we received through Jesus Christ, our High Priest, and Savior.
Hebrews 2:17 AMP “Therefore, it was essential that He had to be made like His brothers (mankind) in every respect, so that He might [by experience] become a merciful and faithful High Priest in things related to God, to make atonement (propitiation) for the people’s sins [thereby wiping away the sin, satisfying divine justice, and providing a way of reconciliation between God and mankind].”
On the cross, Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, paying for all our sins once and for all, and reconciling us to God. We are righteous and forever clean before God, and we can boldly approach His throne. There is no reminder of our sins. All is forgiven and removed as far as the east is from the west.
Wow! We sometimes forget the extent of Jesus’ sacrifice and His forgiveness. His forgiveness towards us urges us to forgive those who have wronged us. Jesus, Himself, said that God will forgive us just as we forgive others. That is also how we should pray. His instruction should not be taken lightly.
Mark 11:25-26 AMP “Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him [drop the issue, let it go], so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions and wrongdoings [against Him and others]. [ But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your transgressions.” ]”
Matthew 6:14 - 15 AMP “For if you forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses.”
Matthew 6:12 AMP “And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors [letting go of both the wrong and the resentment].”
Forgiveness is not always easy and necessarily our first response when someone hurts, disappoints, or betrays us. But, forgiveness is very important to God and an act of obedience. Even though we might think that someone does not deserve forgiveness for what they have done, we still need to forgive because God requires it, and it is good for our well-being.
Do you find it easy to forgive others? What if they never apologize or acknowledge their wrong behavior?
We are all naturally drawn to the tit for tat principle. Once they apologize to me, I will forgive them. God’s kingdom works differently. We need to choose forgiveness, despite the other party’s behavior. We forgive because God forgave, and He wants us to forgive as well. Forgiveness is not a feeling. It remains a choice of obedience. It goes against feelings of revenge, unfairness, justice, and retaliation. It follows the golden rule of doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. It chooses God’s way.
Forgiveness is by no means easy because it goes against our flesh. We all have had terrible things done or said to us or our loved ones. We feel shocked, hurt, loss, pain, anxiety, anger, and injustice. It hurts the most when a close friend or loved-one betrays our trust. Remember how Jesus was betrayed by two of His closest friends, Judas and Peter? He knows how we feel. Forgiveness and reconciliation, as offered by Jesus, was also for Judas and Peter. Who knows had Judas not killed himself out of guilt, he might have enjoyed a similar experience of forgiveness, as Peter did.
We have to remind ourselves that all people are fallible, including ourselves. We all make mistakes. We might have good intentions from our perspective, for doing the wrong thing. Furthermore, people do not have the best judgment when emotions are involved. People do stupid things when they are scared, unwell, mentally unstable, offended, and influenced by the wrong crowd. Jesus asked God to forgive those who demanded His crucifixion. At most, people try their best, and even at their best, they fail miserably. We all need mercy and forgiveness. And there is an enemy and evil in the world that we will have to contend with until we enter eternity. People are never the true enemy, but merely pawns used by Satan to try and upset and derail us.
At times, individuals who have hurt us are indifferent or even unaware of what they have done or said. Others might have hurt us intentionally, but might feel too ashamed, proud, or be too immature to admit that they were wrong. We might never hear ‘I am sorry’ or ‘I was wrong.’ Our forgiveness of others is not dependent on whether we receive forgiveness from them. However, our forgiveness from God is dependent on how we forgive others. Paul also warns us that we should not partake of Communion in an ‘unworthy’ way, but should examine our own hearts (1 Corinthians 11:23 – 33).
We are ultimately responsible for our own choices and behavior. We cannot control other people, but we can choose our response to other people’s behavior. We can choose forgiveness and keep on doing good. We can choose to do the right, honorable, and obedient thing.
Galatians 6:5 AMP “For every person will have to bear [with patience] his own burden [of faults and shortcomings for which he alone is responsible].”
Jesus said that we should forgive someone seventy times seven. That implies daily and over and over. Jesus wants us to let go of the hurt and resentment associated with being wronged by someone. Forgiveness is usually not a once-off decision. It is choosing to forgive every day until we can truly confess that we do not harbor any unforgiveness against our transgressor. When we choose to forgive, we do not always feel motivated to do so, and the devil likes to remind us of our suffering. Forgiveness can be a long process. Keep at it, do not give in to the emotion, but follow in obedience.
There will be times when forgiveness is a personal prayer and declaration between you and God. There will be times when you have to call or speak in person to someone and forgive them. There will also be instances where forgiveness is key to the restoration of a relationship. But, there will also be unique cases where you need to forgive, but sever a toxic relationship and put down interpersonal boundaries. Sometimes a person can have such a repetitively, traumatic, and destructive impact on us. We still need to forgive, but we also have to choose to discontinue our contact with them. When the distance is not possible with family members, healthy boundaries are a must. This is all determined by the guidance from the Holy Spirit and the unique nature of your situation. Pray about it, consult the Word, and ask the Lord for wisdom. Firstly, always decide to forgive, and only after that, pray on what the next proper step should be.
There is power in forgiveness. God knows it, Satan knows it, and God wants you to release it over your own life and those around you.
Satan can use unforgiveness as a foothold for other sins to develop in your life and for your character to become corrupted. Research has shown that unforgiveness can lead to bitterness and even cause certain illnesses. It can be toxic to our body, mind, and soul. Joyce Meyer says it best.
‘Unforgiveness is when you drink poison and expect another person to die.’ – Joyce Meyer
Unforgiveness can hinder your spiritual growth and God from taking you to the next level or task for His kingdom. Every time the devil wants to remind you of that person and the injustice, pray for them, choose to forgive them, and declare it. Even though you might not feel that way, or actually mean the words, speak it over your life, your situation, and over that person’s life. God will bring justice in His way and time. He also says that vengeance is His alone. He can bring restoration and healing in all situations, even if you never hear that apology. Forgiveness is your first step to healing. Give your emotions and troubling thoughts over to God and keep on forgiving. Make that choice of obedience, and each day will get a little bit easier. The Holy Spirit will help you deal with the emotion and hurt, and you will come to a place where you can forgive whole-heartedly. Every time is a little closer to complete restoration and freedom. Jesus understands, knows it all, sees it all, and is with you. You can do it!
Stay resolute in forgiveness my friend.
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