Maybe you are like me. I love the idea that I am forgiven. It is comforting and encouraging and honestly, it gets me through some days that I just might not have made it through.
Forgiving others, however, doesn’t quite produce the same feeling of comfort and security.
As we talked about last week, if you are in Christ you are FORGIVEN. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1, emphasis mine). There is absolutely NOTHING Satan can do to take that away. What he can do, however, is plague your mind with thoughts each day that say you are not enough or that you do not deserve forgiveness. He can stir angry thoughts in your mind that cause you to dwell on what so-and-so did to you, or said about you. He can remind you of the hurtful words your parents said to you, “You’ll never be good enough” or “You’re going to eat another piece of cake?” or “You really can’t get an ‘A’ in Biology?”
Somehow, no matter how many positive things were spoken over you, the enemy will find a way to remind you of the negative things said to you.
And then Satan wins the battle. (Just the battle. He has already lost the war and that is reason to celebrate!!! But let me assure you, he will never stop fighting for the victory of the battles.)
Darling girls, you have been forgiven in order that you might forgive.
That we have been granted forgiveness from God after every offense we committed against Him is remarkably beautiful. What only adds to the beauty is that we have been granted the power to forgive.
If you have ever forgiven someone (and boy, I sure hope you have) you know that forgiveness is no small feat. The deeper the hurt, the harder it is to forgive, but oh the victory we experience when we forgive!
There is nothing natural about forgiveness. Every time you forgive you are letting the gospel SHINE in you. You are showing this sick and twisted world a small, yet glorious, glimpse of the God who has forgiven you. That is lovely.
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15
Seems a little harsh, eh? Why would God withhold forgiveness from me?
“God, You don’t know what she said about me!”
“God, You don’t understand… he told me he loved me.”
“God, I can’t forgive my dad for that. It’s too much.”
It’s okay. I’ve had those conversations with God, too. What we must understand is that the depth of the pain we feel when someone sins against us is merely a drop in the ocean of the grief that we have caused the Lord with our chronic unfaithfulness and continual sin.
Jesus spoke such strong words in Matthew 6 to express to us that every time we withhold forgiveness we quench the flame of the gospel. How can we stand before a sin saturated world and proclaim that we serve a God who forgives, yet we harbor bitterness that rules over us? It doesn’t match up, and Yahweh knows.
Jesus shares a parable in Matthew 18 about a servant who owed his master the equivalent of millions of dollars. The servant begs and begs that the master would show him mercy and cancel the debt. The master does so, and the servant leaves. When he leaves he finds a man that owed him the equivalent of a few bucks. Keep in mind this man had just been forgiven millions of dollars. What do you think he does?
If you thought, “He forgives him, of course!” You are unfortunately wrong. Despite the second servant’s begging for mercy (sound familiar?) the first servant has him thrown in prison until he could pay the debt.
The other servants saw this man who had received such mercy withhold mercy from another man and they reported it back to the first master. He calls the wicked servant before him and Scripture says, “In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.” (Matthew 18:34).
Yikes, right? Ready for a double yikes? In the very next verse Jesus says, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” (18:35, emphasis mine).
We have been forgiven in order that we might forgive because when we forgive we show the world a glimpse of the gospel that magnifies the precious name of Jesus Christ.
And what other purpose do we have on this earth?
To forgive is to release. Forgiveness brings freedom, and sweet friends, you were called to be FREE.
I do not deserve Your relentless forgiveness. I have done nothing to earn it, and everything to disqualify me from it. Thank you for seeing beyond my inconsistency and loving me ever so consistently. Teach me to forgive as You have forgiven me. Help me see people as You see them. I want people to see You in the way that I forgive. I love you.