Friday, January 17, 2020

How many times would you forgive someone?






I have no doubt that many of us are carrying some deep wounds that we’ve carried for months, maybe even years. When we think about that person who hurt us, it’s still as fresh as if it happened this morning. The pain is still there, and we’re still filled with resentment. We say, 'Why in the world should I forgive that person who hurt me so much?'  'You have no idea how much they hurt me.'  'Why should I offer kindness to that person?'


We ought to do it for three reasons:  first of all, we need to be gracious to others and forgive those who have hurt us because God has been gracious to us.  We can never forgive anyone else more than Christ is willing to forgive us. We should consider that we don't always get what we deserved, either. God has been gracious to us; now we should be gracious with others. I was reading a few  verses in Luke's Gospel chapter 17 today. At this time Jesus taught his disciples to forgive the same person seven times in one day. In another passage Jesus said to forgive 70 x 7, that's 490 times. I think he was saying - 'stop counting and keep forgiving'. I am so glad that is the way that God has been with me. He forgave me because Jesus took my punishment on the cross - He suffered as the righteous one for the unrighteous (that's us) to bring us to God. It is amazing to tell you that 'through this man (Jesus) is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins,' Acts 13. 38. If you trust Him, that is believe, and repent (that is turn away from your sins) you can experience his full and final forgiveness. It's a wonderful truth. 

Secondly, we need to forgive others because the alternative is bitterness.  Scientists tell us that resentment is the unhealthiest emotion there is. It always hurts you more than anybody else! Resentment will not change the past, and it won’t solve the problem. It doesn’t even make you feel better. In fact, it makes you feel worse.  Scripture says, 'Be careful that none of you fails to respond to the grace which God gives; for if you do there can very easily spring up in you a bitter spirit, which is not only bad in itself, but can also poison the lives of many others.'

Thirdly, we need to show kindness to and forgive others because God expects us to do it. If we say, 'I could never forgive that person,' then it's best to hope WE never sin. If you just don’t feel like doing it, do it anyway, because it’s the right thing to do. The reason why some of us have a hard time forgiving is because we don’t feel forgiven; and if that is so, we need to pray for liberation and freedom from the depths of our hearts:

God knows that you have been hurt by others. He knows that your resentment has made you act in ways that have been unreasonable and unhelpful and unhealthy. He is willing to give you His power to release and forgive those who have hurt you so you can stop letting them control you. God can replace your hurt with His inner peace. If you want to face the future courageously with love and peace in your heart, ask God to replace your resentment with His love, and your bitterness with His grace. Receive His gracious forgiveness for all the things that you've done wrong and He will help you to put things right.

One of the hymns I love to sing says:

In loving-kindness Jesus came,
My soul in mercy to reclaim,
And from the depths of sin and shame
Through grace He lifted me.

He called me long before I heard,
Before my sinful heart was stirred,
But when I took Him at His word,
Forgiv’n, He lifted me.

From sinking sand He lifted me,
With tender hand He lifted me;
From shades of night to plains of light,
Oh, praise His Name, He lifted me!
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