Over the past four years, my family has gone through probably what I would consider as one of the most trying times we’ve ever faced. Without having to mention names and details surrounding this very sensitive issue, I would say that this testing has caused a great division among family members and has strained relationships… and did I mention that it went on for four years? That’s right. For four excruciating long years, I didn’t see or speak to many of my relatives.
On today’s “Weekend Reflections”, I will share with you amazing things I’ve come to learn and understand about the power of forgiveness — both as the one seeking God’s forgiveness and as someone needing to forgive someone else. My only prayer and hope is that you will draw inspiration and encouragement from what I’m about to share with y’all right here.
Why Is It So Darn Difficult To Forgive?
Many of you, I bet, would agree with me that forgiveness is one of the toughest subjects ever spoken about in the Bible — particularly, “forgiving those who trespassed against us”. Whether the offense was committed against you personally or to someone close to you, it just goes against our human nature to overlook an offense, especially if it has caused significant damage to our dignity, pride, and safety. Human nature’s tendency is to defend oneself, fight back and get even. We have this innate need to prove our self-worth, to protect our rights, to demand what we believe we are “entitled to” whether it’s respect, attention or recognition. It’s all about our foolish sense of pride (a.k.a. ego).
Enters “forgiveness” — the underlying point of which really is all about self-denial, humility and grace — and then all hell breaks loose (from deep within the confines of the soul)! “What?! Denying myself??? Humble myself??? Giving that good-for-nothing moron something he doesn’t deserve??? Surely, forgiveness goes against everything we, as humans, were all raised to believe and follow! How can God expect — no, command! — something that is just outright unrealistic and unreasonable???
Why Did God Command Us To Forgive?
What God has taught me was that forgiveness is in fact more for my own good than the other person’s (the person who I am supposed to be forgiving). The following are verses from the Bible that God used to speak to me:
”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.” - Matthew 6:14-15
”Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.” - Luke 6:36-37
”Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” - Matthew 18:32-35
“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.” – Matthew 5:23-24
The Unseen Power Of Forgiveness: It’s For Our Own Good
If we seek God’s forgiveness for our own sins, it is clear that we need to also forgive those people who have wronged us in the past, or are still continuing to hurt us. Deliberately refusing to heed this commandment will result not only to our own relationship with God being strained, but also to emotional, psychological and most likely physical sufferings. A long-standing belief has linked sin to illness, and forgiveness to healing. Ever wondered why Jesus uttered the words “your sins are forgiven” many times when He performed healing miracles in the New Testament? And do you also recall how Job’s friends were all too quick to assume that he was being punished for his sins? Although it’s not the case all the time that illness or physical sufferings are brought upon by sin or something wrong that one might have done, the stress, anxiety and misery resulting from a strained relationship, or the guilt that sin brings, often manifests itself in the form of an illness or disease. When we receive God’s unconditional love through His forgiveness, we also experience a kind of peace that often cannot be explained nor described (peace that surpasses understanding). And when there’s peace, there’s healing of the mind and soul; when there’s healing of the mind and soul, there’s healing of the body.
God Knows It’s Easier Said Than Done
…nevertheless, He still says, “IT CAN BE DONE, SO JUST DO IT!”.
One of the toughest hurdles I had to overcome (only with God’s help of course) was struggling with my pride. I thought “How can I possibly forgive someone who doesn’t even seek forgiveness?”. God’s answer to me, as difficult as it might have been to listen to at first, was the only thing that made sense — “Does it matter?”. If I say that I trust God wholeheartedly, then that means obeying Him without question or resistance. If I believe that He loves me then I ought to also believe that He will not require of me anything that will cause me harm.
The truth of the matter is that God is fully aware of your side of the story, and if you surrender to His will, He will defend your case in ways that might be unseen to you but is guaranteed to bring forth victory. You need not worry about not being able to express your side or defend yourself, or that people might go on believing all the false accusations thrown at you.
Forgiveness requires a great deal of humility that none of us can probably muster without God’s grace. It means writing off the other person’s debt. It means being able to say to him that he’s free to go without me chasing or hunting him down in pursuit of vengeance. It means being willing to open a line of communication again with the very person whom I once vowed never to speak to again. But even though it goes against every fiber of my being to forgive someone who has hurt me deeply, I can do it if I choose to keep in mind how God Himself forgave my sins and allowed me to live in the freedom of His peace. I can do the (almost) impossible commandment to forgive my transgressors and persecutors because I, too, was a recipient of God’s mercy and forgiveness when I only had nothing less than retribution and punishment coming. Such amazing grace indeed!
“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.” – Isaiah 43:25, Hebrews 8:12
Free At Last!!!
After I made a choice to humbly submit to God’s will and obey His commandment to sincerely forgive, I immediately experienced His peace. The bitterness, resentment and anger in my heart that were once easily triggered by the memories of the events and the mere mention of the person’s name all disappeared! I’m telling you, the place that God will take you to after you make the choice to obey and forgive is like your own slice of heaven on earth! Nothing compares to it! All of the pain would dim out in comparison to the peace and overflowing love from God that you will experience!
“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” – Matt. 23:12
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven; whose sin is covered.” – Psalm 32:1
My prayer for each one of you right now is for you to accept the freedom that God is offering you through forgiveness. I pray that God will give you the strength and willpower to forgive the person who has hurt you, and may He teach you how to humble yourself enough for you to realize your own share of mistakes and to look past the other person’s faults so that you may experience the fullness of joy as you live out your life. God bless y’all and have a B-E-A-U-tiful weekend!
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