“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses , neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” One of the scariest verses in all of Scripture has to be Mathew 6:14–15, where Jesus said. Often seen this is one of those verses that we will never see on a t-shirt, coffee mug, or desktop screen-saver with roses in the background.
This not a popular verse because it digs deep into the uncomfortable areas of our practical lives and deals with some difficult actions on our part. Verse teaches us that if we are going to be recipients of God’s divine and grace, then we must share the same with others. Jesus gives the challenge that if we don’t forgive others it may be proof that we have truly never received the God’s forgiveness in our self. In a positive glorious implication, He is teaching us that, the most practical way to show the world is that, we understand the Gospel of forgiveness is by showing the world that, we know how to forgive.
So, what is forgiveness? While attending the International Religious Conference held in Delhi the best definitions given by a Religious Leader on forgiveness was as “the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.”
Wow! True forgiveness is not just “letting go” of anger, bitterness and resentment, but, it’s also wishing well for the one who hurt you. Am I able truly to pray to God for someone? Not just praying and “informing” God of their transgressions but actually asking the Lord to bless that person. Now, that is extremely difficult, isn’t it?. Yes for us its difficult to pray for someone to God.
Let’s be honest. Most of our unforgiveness and bitterness is caused by some really silly and trivial situations. However, there are many stories that involve true heartbreaks, letdowns and victimization. In these kinds of stories, forgiveness can only come from God because it takes a God sized forgiveness. And, it’s in stories like these that myths about forgiveness seem to handicap, confuse and keep us from truly experiencing victory.
So, let’s identify some of the scenerio about forgiveness, and call them what they are:
- Memories are very real, especially if memories are wrapped in hurt. They may always be there. However, there is a wonderful opportunity to operate in a lifestyle of saying, “I have not been able to forget. I remember it very well, and yet by God’s grace I still choose to forgive.”. Unfortunately, you don’t have a Neutralizer from the movie Men in Black that causes your memory to be erased if you look into its flash.
- Many times we feel that choosing to forgive is saying that what a particular person did to us was okay. However, forgiveness is trusting God to be the ultimate and perfect judge. He knows how to settle our disputes much better than we do. After all, He’s the expert at dealing with sinners and sinful actions, not us. Who we are to judge ?. Let’s not forget how He has perfectly dealt with our sinful actions towards others.
- Often, we’re terrified to forgive because we’re scared to be hurt over and over again. However, forgiveness doesn’t mean that we have to subject our self to being continually abused and used. In fact, we could be guilty of enabling a person if we are their doormat. Forgiveness means that I’m going to protect and free myself from you by not carrying bitterness with me.
- Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we have to continually be “close” or “friends” with someone. Sometimes, the healthiest thing for two people is distance. We’re commanded by Scripture to forgive, love and be kind to others; however, nowhere in Scripture are we commanded to be friends with everyone.
- Sometimes we think that the two words, “I’m sorry” are supposed to heal all wounds. However, true forgiveness can’t come from a pithy statement, but rather, an all powerful God. God must first forgive the one who is doing the forgiving; then the forgiving one must truly experience and enjoy God’s forgiveness. Then and only then can that person be in a healthy place to allow God to grant forgiveness through them to the transgressor. In short, forgiveness comes from God, not us.
- Sadly, forgiveness is not easy. It’s also not difficult. Forgiveness is actually impossible. In our natural state, we want to hold onto unforgiveness, bitterness and anger because on some level it makes us feel in control. We want that person to hurt like we hurt. We simply can’t change these feelings on our own. However, the good news is that we have a God that makes the impossible, possible. “For nothing will be impossible with God (Luke 1:37).”
Although, there are many myths about forgiveness, there is only one Truth. The truth is that bitterness, unforgiveness and anger are a heavy and miserable load to carry.
Therefore, it’s time to truly experience the victory of forgiveness that can only be found in Christ by laying that heavy burden down at His feet. “For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).
May Almighty God bless us to forgive and enable us to pray and ask the Lord to bless that person.
Your Servant in Lord
Lino Varghese Abraham