“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 NKJV
God’s gift of forgiveness is indescribable! Through the sacrifice of Jesus, we all can receive the gift of forgiveness of sins. God’s forgiveness is given freely; we do not have to work for it, or earn it, or deserve it! (If we did…none of us would be able to be forgiven!) We simply choose to accept the gift or not. Free will demands that we are allowed the choice of accepting God’s gift for our lives or rejecting it.
With this precious gift of God’s, we also have a commission. That we also forgive those who sin or trespass against us! Matthew 6:14 NKJV (quotes Jesus saying), “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Now we have a responsibility! We received forgiveness from God and are told to offer forgiveness to others in return.
We all understand and accept that God can forgive our sins. But sometimes the actual implementation in our own lives can be complicated and difficult. Forgiveness is an over used word. But sometimes a very hard line to actually step across. For me, when my children were young, forgiveness was easy. They needed to learn the lessons of right and wrong and so forgiveness became a teaching tool. As my children got older and they knew (should have known!) the difference, keeping my anger in check and forgiving took God’s help! But the continued attitude of forgiveness has resulted in a “no judgement dome” (my husband’s words) atmosphere in our family. Where all of us are free to discuss anything. And we all still talk to each other!
When we forgive someone, with God’s help, we can also bring healing for our own lives. When I was young, there was a family member whose touch was inappropriate and made me uncomfortable. I never told anyone about it or confronted it. I just tried to ignore it. It wasn’t until I was an adult (and he was gone) that I was finally able to forgive him and put that part of my life behind. Now I can talk about it without anger or shame because God has given me healing with my forgiveness.
Sometimes, however, the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. We have an extremely difficult time letting go of our own sins. And this may color all aspects of our lives. We don’t feel deserving of forgiveness so we can’t forgive ourselves and we carry this burden in everything we do. When I let anger win and I yelled at my kids, it would replay through my mind again and again until I had convinced myself I was a terrible person. The kids should be angry with me, God should be angry, I deserved to feel bad!
But, we have to accept God’s forgiveness and forgive ourselves and go forward. We have to “forget” our own trespasses and move to help others forget theirs by offering our own gift of forgiveness as well as God’s gift of forgiveness for their lives.
This week try to think of someone that needs your forgiveness. Ask God to help you. They may not even know they have offended you, but the offense prevents you from the true peace you might have because you can’t forgive or put it in the past. With God’s help, forgive it, and let God bring peace and comfort to your life.
I thank God for each of you! And I thank you for joining me today!