(a teaching excerpt on Forgiveness © 2009)
Forgiveness is the fullness of God’s gift of freedom for us.
Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Forgiveness is an intentional, mind and heart encompassing choice we must make in order to be truly set free. Forgiveness is a determined decision to trust and depend on – not our own feelings or natural responses to our painful experiences, but rather on – God, God’s Word, God’s love and God’s power to move us and empower us to forgive even what we deem as unforgivable. True freedom requires us to do things God’s way: Forgive everyone of everything every time. But! Let me assure you, forgiving others is not about denying the injustice or the ugliness of the sin done against you. Never. No matter how big or how small it was. Nor does true forgiveness stand in the way of the legal consequences that are right, necessary and in line with our earthly justice system for those who have wronged you.
Forgiving others is not about pretending that it didn’t really hurt.
Forgiving others is not about somehow stuffing it to the back corner of our minds.
Forgiving others does not in any way diminish or deny the gravity of the sins done against us.
Forgiving others is definitely not about acting as if “It’s okay.”
Jesus did not die because sin is okay! Jesus died exactly because all sin is a deathblow to our souls. Jesus died because all sin is big, bad, ugly, relationship-destroying and life-killing. Jesus died a brutal death precisely because sin is so terribly destructive. Jesus Christ fully paid the price for my sins, for yours, and for everyone who has ever sinned against us. Jesus died because that was God’s perfect plan, God’s holy, loving choice, to completely eradicate and set us free from the bondage of sin in our lives. Whether that bondage is grown out of our own sins or from the sins that have come against us from others.
To live in freedom, to live in the power of God’s healing and transformation, we must accept the truth that God forgives us completely through the sufficient and perfect sacrifice of Jesus. To live in freedom and to live in obedience to God, we must live out the truth that God demands that we forgive everyone of everything every time. Period.
Forgiving others is not conditional upon any action of those who have wronged us. We are to forgive everyone of everything every time regardless as to whether or not they have ever:
Asked for forgiveness.
Admitted the wrong done to us.
Acknowledged the validity of our hurt and anger.
Agreed with our perspective about their sins against us.
Forgiving others does not even require that they still be alive.
Forgiveness is never optional for the children of God. To live in the fullness of God’s freedom, in the beauty and transforming power of God’s freedom, we must follow Christ’s example and command: Forgive. Forgive. Forgive. Ahhhhh! Freedom!