Do you know what it feels like to not be forgiven for something or by someone? What does it feel like to tell someone how very sorry you are- only to be shut down and turned away? It stings. There's no getting around it- it hurts. As bad as you want to take away the pain you've caused, you just can't. You desperately want to sit that person down and tell them why it happened, maybe the circumstances surrounding it but they don't care to hear your pleading apologies. Maybe you've tried but they've responded with hateful words- words that cut you like a knife. Words you'll never forget.
We've all hurt people- we're human, we make mistakes and our parents tell us early on to "say you're sorry". Sometimes people forgive and sometimes they choose not to. That's really the bottom line- they have to choose to forgive. Choosing to say "I forgive you" is hard sometimes. I have known people who say they will never forgive- they say they can't- it's impossible. It's hard for me to hear people say they'll never forgive because I know what the Bible says about choosing not to forgive. And I'm going to tell you in case you don't know.
Matthew 6:14 & 15 says "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".
I think that's pretty black and white, don't you? I know you might be thinking, "but you don't know what this person did…" Let's be clear- there is no "but "clause to Jesus' statement. He doesn't give a loop hole. There are no exceptions to this rule. Do you want to be forgiven?- sure, we all do. I'd love to be able to 'rewind time" and do a few things in my life over again- but I can't. One thing I've learned over time is I can't take my mistakes back but I have really learned from them. God has used my indiscretions to mold my character and just let me add- He's not even close to being done with me yet.
When I think of the forgiveness Christ has bestowed on me- I am so humbled. I am so thankful that the Bible says we are "new creatures" and "whiter than snow", that His love "keeps no records of wrong". Can you imagine being able to forgive like that? And what He went through to show us that forgiveness- that's another whole devotion!
When you know you've been wronged it's OK to be hurt- it's OK to be angry- but remember those are all parts of the cycle- forgiveness and acceptance should always be the last step in the grief process- without it our hearts become empty and hard. Sometimes I think we justify holding on to it so we can make the offender continue to suffer. But who does it really hurt more? - ourselves. As long as we're holding on to the hurt and pain- God can't heal us. The healing process can be so hard sometimes but don't you want to be forgiven for your mistakes? Can you remember the mistakes you've made that God paid for with His sinless life? He was perfect- and He forgives us. If He can forgive us- can't we forgive too?
The next time someone really hurts you and approaches you to ask forgiveness, see Jesus smiling face. Picture Him telling you how much He's forgiven you- how much He loves you. Forgiveness is liberating- it's empowering and it's free when we ask for and accept it. We will make mistakes- we will hurt people and be hurt- forgiveness is a bridge in the shape of a cross- the cross of Jesus.