“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” – Matthew 6:12 CSB
“For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your offenses.” – Matthew 6:14-15 CSB
“According to the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” – Hebrews 9:22 CSB
“But with you there is forgiveness, so that you may be revered. I wait for the Lord; I wait and put my hope in his word. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning — more than watchmen for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the Lord. For there is faithful love with the Lord, and with him is redemption in abundance. And he will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.” – Psalms 130:4-8 CSB
If you have lived for more than 15 minutes, you will find that this life is marred by disarray, sadness and hurt- some of which has been inflicted upon us by others and some of which we’ve inflicted upon ourselves and those around us. This is yet another sign of evidence of the fact that we live in a broken and dying world filled with deeply-flawed people like you and me.
We live within a reality that constantly displays a sharp contrast between life and death. We see loved ones grow old and die or untimely catch ill and pass on. We see the vibrant autumn fade into the seemingly-perpetual gray of winter where the bud of the trees die, showcasing an illustration of the pronounced sadness of death.
We find ourselves thrown into this tapestry of tension- of life, death, joy and sorrow. How will we frail creatures make sense of all of this?
How do we endure?
Many of us today have been walking around this earth for quite some time with the pain of past sins. Many of us have struggled to release the offense done unto us and therefore we struggle to forgive as our Lord commands us to.
Though we constantly pray that we forgive our debtors and that God would forgive us our debts, the anger and hurt just won’t go away.
Or, we pray the previously-mentioned prayer, only to, days later, have the emotions wash over us afresh. Or even worse, many of us don’t want to bother engaging with this process because we are more content to walk through life offended rather than forgive an offense- eventhough our Lord has offered us forgiveness for our offenses.
I know many of us struggle with this topic.
Brothers and sisters, speaking to those who would rather not forgive your debtors, and walk around life with a spirit of offense, do we not understand to do so is an offense to God? Do we understand that is ultimately sin against God? May we not stay in that place!
To be clear, I am not advocating that we don’t deal honestly with the hurt in our lives or we don’t have accountability, but I am advocating that you take that hurt directly to God in prayer as His child and plead with Jesus our great High Priest to take said pain away from us. That He would help that gaping wound become a grace-covered scar.
Even we Christians often forget that to forgive those who have wronged us is pleasing to God and healing for us. To forgive is to walk all the more in the new life offered us in Christ Jesus.
I love something my Pastor said at last week’s service, and I’m paraphrasing here- he said that everything in creation screams resurrection. Just consider again how the trees die and bloom again in the spring.
To forgive is to walk in love, and to walk in love, is true life for this was modeled by Christ who is the way, the truth and the life.
To not forgive, leads to bitterness, and unrepentant bitterness ultimately leads to death.
We often forget forgiveness, resurrection and redemption are very close siblings.
So how do we forgive and continue to walk in forgiveness towards those who have wronged us? By continual surrender of our offenses unto Christ and the Cross.
When the sting of bitterness and un-forgiveness try to force their way into your heart once more, immediately run to the Cross in prayer say, “Lord I give this hurt over to you. I choose to forgive because you forgave me when I was most against you in my former darkness.”
When this happens we also do well to confess out loud, “Lord, I believe your blood is more than adequate to cover this sin too! Cleanse my heart afresh once more and help me walk in forgiveness so that I may not sin against you nor my neighbor!”
If we need the Lord’s grace moment by moment, then that includes Him helping us walk in godly, deep and otherworldly forgiveness moment by moment.
You may still be asking, “…but how do I really do this?”
To that question, based upon the accounts we are given in Holy Scripture- we can know with full assurance that when we forgive, we truly let God do what He does best: Bring redemption even into the most broken of situations.
Further, we forgive by acknowledging and confessing we do not have the right nor capacity to hold onto an offense. We confess that the blood of Christ can blot out the sin that has caused us such pain.
When we forgive, we choose freedom for ourselves from the offense. It’s life-producing freedom.
As it was once said, “if God forgave the inexcusable in us, then we ought to forgive the inexcusable in each other.”
We must not forget that this is part of loving one another, and our witness unto the wider world. With that, may we be known by our love.
“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35 CSB