* sabotaged my husband’s business.
* introduced my child to drugs or alcohol.
* stole my identity, leaving me with a financial mess.
* abused me sexually as a child or did so to my child.
* kidnapped my child and sold him/her for sex trafficking.
* lured my teenager from the internet into running away.
* drove down the wrong side of the expressway at night in a drunken stupor and killed my whole family.
Maybe none of this has happened to you. So, do you forgive…
* your husband for having an affair?
* your best friend who lied about you?
* your mother-in-law who has never said a kind word to you or about you?
First and foremost, God forgives us…
The Word tells us that, in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Eph. 1:7a NKJV) That precious pouring out of His blood is as a veil of disappearance, leaving no trace of whatever we put under it.
When God forgives our sins, He removes them “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us,” (Ps. 103:12 NKJV) tossing them “into the depths of the ocean,” (Micah 7:19b TLB) never to emerge.
We forgive others…
We forget that forgiveness of others is not optional. No right relationship with God can prevail apart from forgiveness of others.
Jesus declared this in His Sermon on the Mount, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt. 6:14-15 NLT)
He said that when one prays to first “forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” (Mark 11:25 NLT) Not forgiving or holding a grudge, as the saying goes, is like taking poison in the hope that the other person will die.
Forgiveness is a choice of the heart. So, if we don’t first forgive others, what are the consequences? If we do not forgive others, we destroy our flow of intimacy with the Lord and also hinder our prayers. The Bible says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” (Ps. 66:18 NKJV)
We ask others to forgive us…
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matt. 5:23-24 NIV)
Leonardo daVinci learned a great lesson in forgiveness. While painting the Last Supper, daVinci had a bitter falling out with his assistant, who started it all because he had some burr under his saddle against daVinci. As daVinci painted the faces of the disciples, he came to the face of Judas and spitefully painted the face of his assistant.
When daVinci came to the last face to be painted, which was Jesus, he drew a blank. He could not put a face on Jesus. Then, God spoke to him and told him he must forgive his assistant. So daVinci went to him, crying and begging the man’s forgiveness. The assistant complied.
When daVinci removed the face of the assistant from Judas, he was then able to paint Jesus, for he clearly saw His face.
We forgive ourselves…
If God has forgiven us and forgotten our disobedience, then we cannot hang onto unforgiveness of ourselves. Since God keeps no catalog of past accounts, He has no eternal archive; therefore, we should not either. The only memory of it, then, is in our own minds, not God’s!
Do you have angry, old bones hidden away in the closet of your heart?
* How long does it take for you to forgive a hurt?
* How long will you be separated from the face of Jesus?
* How long does it take for you to ask another to forgive you?
* Do you cling to unforgiveness, victimizing myself as a form of self-abuse?
* Have you forgiven everyone of everything, or do you drag the unforgiveness of your past behind you in a little red wagon or maybe in a U-haul?
If our sins nailed Jesus’ hands and feet to the cross for our forgiveness, then why do we hold a grudge, offense, or unforgiveness in our hearts against our brother or sister, who has also been forgiven?
Lord, “forgive [me of my] sins, just as [I] have forgiven those who have sinned against [me].” (Matt. 6:12 NCV) And when I find it difficult to forgive, help me to be willing to forgive. As David said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart…See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Ps. 139:23a, 24 NIV)
Is forgiveness the choice of your heart?