My Calling to Forgiveness. How to Forgive...8:24 AM
Forgiveness. A word easier said than done. A word that makes me even now struggle to take a deep breath. A topic that I have literally attempted to write about 5 times now. I guess 6th time is the charm?
Anxiety, fear, aggravation, and anger are all common feelings for me when I think about the different situations and people in my life. I find myself having to pray through the attacks of unforgiveness. Whoever said "forgiveness is freedom" is absolutely correct. Forgiveness brings freedom from the person, place or thing. It brings joy and comfort and strengthens my relationship with Christ. However, getting to the point of forgiving, really makes me want to scream.
Forgiveness is a topic that I could never cover in one blog. I could go into a full series on forgiveness and still never cover it all. It's a topic that brought me to Christ and continues to keep me on my knees. It's a topic that was constantly on my mind growing up and has made me who I am today. I think the hardest part for me was forgiving over and over. I often said over the years "I feel like as soon as I start to forgive and heal, my wound is cut back open and becomes only deeper." How can I continue to forgive over and over? Why should I? A question that still burns in me. A question that I honestly struggle with. The word gives a great answer to that question - Matthew 18:21-22
Then came Peter and said to him, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? until seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven.
Jesus was not giving an exact number. Peter tried to get an exact limit of how many times he should forgive someone. Aren't you glad that we don't have an exact number of times that God will only forgive us? I don't mention this to give anyone an opportunity to sin because we know He will forgive us, but to know that we serve a great God, full of mercy and grace. A God that is mighty to save. A God of unconditional love.
So how do we forgive? How do we pick up the pieces of our shattered heart? I give the example of how I feel as though I am opening my heart to someone and giving them my most precious crystal. The person hurts me by taking the crystal from my hands and throwing it to the ground to have it shatter at my feet. It's incredibly hard for me. It sucks. The pain really is painful, and sometimes it seems unforgivable. However, the Lord calls us to forgive. Not to forgive and allow them to continue to hurt you, but to wake up every morning and make the conscious decision to forgive. Sometimes I wake up with an angry and hard heart and forgive with an attitude (which is basically not forgiving). And sometimes I don't forgive altogether by choice. But what about the verse, Matthew 18:21-23? He's not only calling us to forgive, but to forgive OVER and OVER again. Forgiveness is one of the key factors of being a believer. So much so that the Lord states that if we don't forgive, He will NOT extend forgiveness to you (Matthew 6:14-15)!
Forgiveness is a calling, not a pleasure. Forgiveness is an everyday battle (at least for me). It keeps me humble, prayerful and aware of my heart's condition. I will be the first to say that it's extremely painful, hard, not easy and aggravating. That is the honest truth. But who am I to be angry about sins committed towards me? Who am I to say that I DESERVE something? A verse that is constantly on my mind, and I think paints a beautiful picture of Christ is, John 8:7 -
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Jesus gave a "Really? You're seriously blowing up about this chick and you're standing there with a great amount of sin in your hearts? Like really??" kind of response.
So when my flesh, yet again, is full of pride and hurt, I blast through and ignore everything I know to be true in the Bible because I am entitled to be treated right. Or I didn't get what I wanted. What is unforgiveness? Unforgiveness is holding on to pain and refusing to let go. When we hold on to our hurt, it's like refusing to clean our soiled garments. It gets worse with time and even becomes an idol in our hearts that we put before God. When we don't forgive, the snowball effects kicks in and we find ourselves in bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, along with every form of malice (Ephesians 4:31-32).
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
I have been used and abused by family, friends, strangers, bosses and even leaders in the church. Does that give me a right to parade down the street with my hurt? Nope! Does it give me the opportunity to answer my calling as a Believer to forgive because Christ died for MY sins and forgave me? Yes. Does it mean that I should trust these people? Yes and no, there is a time to build each other in Christ and go to your brother or sister with a humble heart and explanation of what's on your heart and tell them about the situation and try to work together to make it a safer environment for both of you (Matthew 18:15-16). If they don't receive it, you need to continue to pray and forgive and MOVE ON. Even when it's not easy. Remember, one of the fruits of the spirit is forgiveness. Remember that Christ forgave us for our sins. NOT because we deserve it. But because He loves us. I Corinthians 13:4-6
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
I mentioned earlier that this is my 6th attempt to write about forgiveness. I have had to stop and pray and take a break from writing this post because even now I am tempted to blast my thoughts and opinions about my hurt. But this is not about me. This is about finding freedom through forgiveness in Christ. Maybe you have been hurt beyond words. Maybe you need to forgive yourself. Maybe you need to seek forgiveness from someone. I encourage you to cry out to your heavenly Father who loves your more than we can humanly know. I implore you to extend forgiveness to that unforgivable situation in your life. I want to remind you that forgiveness is not a natural thing. We were never taught how to become angry with someone. We have to continue to die to ourselves and with CHRIST, forgive. I urge you to seek forgiveness and become truly free. Maybe you need to finally find freedom for the first time in your life. You will find true freedom in Christ. You find that peace that passes all understanding through Him.
If you need to talk to someone, I want to cheer you on to do so. Go to www.citylightcharlotte.org and we would be delighted to listen and pray with you.