The call to forgiveness.

April 17, 2008

I never struggled so much with extending forgiveness as I did in the past month.

Hurt turned into a refusal to forgive turned into bitterness turned into resentment turned into a reproduction of the old record of wrongs that I thought I had put away (woops, did I lose you?). Basically, I was cherishing the sin of unforgiveness in my heart, & it began to fester.

The ones we love best & the ones we hold dearest to our hearts are the ones who hurt us the most (e.g., our family, our closest friends). & the deeper the hurt, the closer the broken trust, the more difficult it is to forgive & let love cover . . . especially since so much of self-love still runs deeper than these other loves.

The one who refuses to forgive, in essence, is saying, “My glory is more important to me than Christ’s glory. My emotions are more important to me than obedience to Christ. Vengeance is more important to me than grace. Self-love controls & compels me, not Christ’s love.”

The one who refuses to forgive disregards the Word of God & hardens his heart, grieving the Spirit & willfully breaking fellowship with God for the sake of his sin.

But the one who forgives seeks Christ’s glory, not his own.

The one who forgives says, “Even in my heart, I will not curse (but will rather bless) the offender, because this reflects the gospel of the grace of God.”

The forgiver remembers that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). If we were treated as we deserved (as sinners, as offenders of the Most High God), we would be eternally condemned — “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” (Romans 9:22).

If You, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, that You may be feared.” (Psalm 130:3-4)

In terms of our sin, we weren’t dealt with according to justice. We were dealt with according to grace. “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21).

The forgiver, from the heart, obeys His commands to forgive:
“Let all bitterness & wrath & anger & clamor & slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy & beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, & patience, bearing with one another &, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:12-14)

We’re to treat the offender as God in Christ treated us.

& when do we forgive?

When we are treated unfairly or wrongly accused. When another maliciously slanders us. When a trust is betrayed. When someone we hold dear is, in a manipulative & cunning manner, made to turn against us. When a broken relationship (between friends, parents, etc.) is unreasonably blamed on us. When another’s selfish decision “ruins” our lives. When a loved one is hurt or slandered by another. When we are beaten or abused in any way — not only by strangers but even by ones we loved & trusted. When someone just makes our life plain difficult. When a spouse is unfaithful. When another’s insensitivity hurts us. When our “rights” are violated. When we are disregarded. When we are riled against for doing good. When we are misunderstood. When we aren’t given the benefit of the doubt. When we are purposely excluded or ostracized. When we are robbed. When we are lied to. Whenever a wrong is committed.

Forgiveness must be extended every time, even if it’s the same sin committed for the thousandth time. This is the forgiveness of God. He doesn’t just forgive us for the sins we commit up to the point of receiving Christ; He forgives us for the sins we continue to commit even after we have made a profession of faith & love towards Christ. He forgave us when we were His willful enemies; He continues to forgive us as His own children.

So, whose honor will we seek? Ours, or God’s?
Which love will we seek? Self-love, or the love of God?
Which law will we uphold? The law of our own making (our broken sense of justice & wounded pride), or the law of grace?

The options are mutually exclusive.

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8).
Whoever covers an offense seeks love . . .” (Proverbs 17:9).

The call to forgiveness is a call to love. It’s a call to love with the same love God demonstrated to us. It’s not a cheap love; it’s costly. & sometimes, it’s “costly” to forgive. But this is the love of God.


2 Responses to “The call to forgiveness.”

  1. Kau Says:

    I was just looking at that Colossians verse a week ago…don’t forget verse 14.

  2. tia Says:

    haha, funny you should mention it . . . i was debating whether to include it or not.

    but you’re right. it’s essential. i’ll include it now :] thanks!

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