“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ has forgiven us” Ephesians 4:32.
You are never more like God than when you choose to forgive.
Last week we talked about how to resolve that crazy conflict that crops up in our relationships. You know — the stuff that comes up in regular interaction between friends, family, co-workers, neighbors.
But what about the big stuff? How do you handle the big stuff? God has a plan for that, too and it begins with learning how to forgive. Of course the only reason you can forgive is because you have been forgiven.
Wanna get blessed? Do what I did and read every verse in the Bible that describes God’s forgiveness.In case you don’t get to it soon, here are the highlights:
It is God’s nature to forgive.
“For You, Oh Lord, are good and ready to forgive, abundant to mercy to those who call upon You.” Psalm 86:5
There is to be no limit to God’s forgiveness.
“If [your brother] sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ?I repent,’ forgive him.” Luke 17:4
Forgiveness was in our Lord’s heart as He died on the cross.
“And Jesus said, ?Father, forgive them . . . ” Luke 23:24
God forgives us only because Christ died to pay for our sins.
“In Christ we have redemption through His blood the forgiveness of sins.” Ephesians 1:7
God is always ready to forgive us.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us.” 1 John 1:9
If that’s true (and it is!) then we need to be ready and willing to forgive the person who has hurt us. Every heart that truly comprehends the reality of God’s forgiveness bursts forth in a fountain of grace that drenches everyone in the vicinity. Forgive that person — even if they never accept it or acknowledge it. You’re that one who will be most blessed.
Now, that I’ve said that, I need to clarify three things about what forgiveness is not.
#1 Forgiveness is not enabling What if my friend has an overspending problem, and I lend him money sometimes and he never pays me back? Do I have to forgive him? Sure. Do you have to give him your credit card? No. Forgiveness is not helping the person sin more. Show a tough and strong love for them. “Love does not rejoice in iniquity, it rejoices in the truth.”
#2 Forgiveness is not rescuing If my 15 year-old son (praise God this is not true) takes the car out for a joy ride and crashes it into a tree, do I have to forgive him? You better believe it. Do I have to give him his own set of car keys? Do I talk the Juvenile Court out of taking his license away? No, I don’t have to do any of those things. And I would never protect my child from the consequences of their wrong behavior lest they crash the car into a tree next time and kill themselves. I want them to learn. I want to be like God in modeling a perfecting love, not a pampering love. Forgiveness is not rescuing.
#3 Forgiveness is not risking If my father-in-law loses his mind when he drinks and says awful, bitter things, do I have to forgive him? Yes! Do I have to accept his invitation to the New Year’s Eve bash? No.
Reconciliation does not require enabling, rescuing, or risking. It just requires this: “If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).
The Key to Reconciliation Here’s the key in all of this. Two thousand years ago God sent His Son into this world to die on a cross to pay the penalty for your sins and mine so that we might be forgiven. Even after we come to the cross we do things that are not pleasing to God. But the key in reconciliation with God is repentance and faith. Faith is believing the Word of God and acting upon it no matter how I feel because God promises a good result.
Help me, Lord. Forgive me for my hard heartedness and callous indifference to others. Forgive me for thinking or saying, “Well, I don’t need her.” And, “Forget about him.” Forgive me, Lord, and cause me to see how those attitudes grieve Your heart and grieve Your Spirit. I want to be like the Lord Jesus. I want my life to please You. And so I pray that You would allow me to step away from every objection I might think of in regards to being a person of reconciliation and reaching out in love to those who have injured me and saying, I’m sorry, and asking forgiveness to those I have hurt. I ask that my obedience would allow You to flow Your grace like a mighty river in my heart.
Give me grace and truth in my relationship with others and might You be exalted and honored in the way that we live together before You. Help us to be obedient to Your truth and release into our lives the joy that You reserve for those who follow You with their whole hearts.
To this victory and obedience, I entrust myself now. In Your name I pray, Amen.
Copyright 2003 – Walk in the Word. Used by permission. Dr. James
MacDonald is the Bible teacher on the daily national radio program Walk in the Word. If you enjoyed this devotional, visit us weekly at walkintheword.com