Friday, January 20, 2012

Forgiveness is a Process


Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” 
Ephesians 4:31 - 32

Here is the truth, forgiveness happens not because you do not have the right to feel hurt by a situation but rather because of the fallen state you also are in before God and His mercy – His desire to forgive you for all of your sins.   We are all equally guilty before God, but it is by His great love for us that we are forgiven and given the chance to be free from our guilt and shame.   And, it is from receiving that love from Him that then pushes us towards the need to forgive others who have hurt us.No matter how badly you have been treated – God knows – He cares – and He wants you to move on and forgive and be forgiven. 

Years ago a young woman shared a story with me about how she had been badly hurt by a man when she was a child.  After dealing for years with the hurt and pain of the situation she was asked by someone if she would be willing to seek God and where He was when during that time in her life.  Over time God showed her that he was there with her the whole time her abuse was going on and He desired for her to take that experience and the heart He had given her for other women who have been hurt as she had and use it to share the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.  This young woman, after having her heart healed by God and finding a place of forgiveness for this man, not only has helped many other women who have experienced the same hurt, but also has been the main catalyst in bringing the man who had once hurt her into a relationship with Christ. 

Jesus is the only one who can give us freedom from past hurts.  Past hurts that only help to hold us down and keep us from living in the true light of God.  The main truth here is that Instead of judgment and bitterness, God gives us another option.  Remember when Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”   Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

Today, if you know you are angry about an injustice done to you and you cannot seem to let it go, pray for God to move your heart towards forgiveness and allow Him to work through you to bring resolution to the situation.  Can you forgive too quickly? YES  - Forgiveness does  not just happen in our heads, it happens in our hearts out of the sorrow we feel over a situation because it is a product of a sin.

And, forgetting is not a one-time thing, rather it is a process of letting go and letting God take a memory from us and all that is attached to it.  So, when the past comes to mind don’t take the bait that Satan has set before you, instead cut the line (repent and move on).  Forgiveness and forgetting happens one step and one day at a time as you allow God in to heal your heart and fill it with the truth of His compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and grace.

Finally, if you have a child who struggles in this area, he/she needs to be reminded of the truth of the cross and that WE ALL (yes even you their parents) FALL SHORT and we ALL need forgiveness.  And just as Jesus has forgiven us when we did not deserve it so must we forgive others who in our eyes do not deserve to be forgiven either.

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