“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” Matthew 18:21-22
Today is one of the most important days on the Christian calendar. It is the day Christ was unjustly charged, beaten and crucified for declaring the truth: that he was, indeed, the Son of God. After being nailed to the cross, Christ gave up his life to reconcile us to the Lord so we would be able to spend eternal life in heaven with Him. In essence, a man who knew no sin, endured the vilification of his name, was ridiculed and beaten. Nearly everyone turned their backs on him, even his trusted disciples, but all Jesus said in response was, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
There are many things that happen in the world that cause us to question mankind, and scream, “Where are you, God?!”. It makes it difficult to believe that God loves us when we witness things like The Middle Passage, slavery, the Holocaust, war, genocide in Kosovo, Rwanda and other places around the world, rape, September 11th, human trafficking, murder, drugs, child molestation, to experience heartache, endure a loved one’s death, or to wake up to find that your loved one is missing. How can God allow these atrocities to happen? And how can I love him in return when some of those atrocities have happened to me and my family?
Truth be told, I cannot answer those questions for you, however, I can tell you that I can relate to your frustration, anger and despair. In my own life, I have experienced some things that turned me upside-down, and led me to turn my back on God. What I failed to acknowledge then was that, during that season, God continued to hold. Through my tirades, silent treatments, lashing and acting out, I thought I was living my life without him, but, in all actuality, I wasn’t. He was still there, but I could not fully experience life, or a relationship with Him, until I did one very important thing. Forgive.
Believe it or not, forgiving is easy. Making the decision to forgive is the hard part. Forgiveness means releasing not only the experience, but relinquishing the desire to change what happened. Forgiveness means you become a gardener in your own spiritual garden, and work to uproot all of the “bitterness, malice, anger and resentment” (Ephesians 4:31) you may be harboring against those who did you wrong. Forgiveness means letting go and allowing God to be the final judge.
But how can I forgive the person who took my loved one? The one who subjected them to such horrible things? How can I forgive God for allowing it to happen? My answer may seem oversimplified, and it may anger you, but it is simply, to just forgive. Sometimes, we will never understand why things happen because an explanation won’t be provided for us, but, if we continue to hold on to the situation, regardless of what it is, then we will live our lives beneath a shadow of anger and resentment.
Again, you ask, “How do I forgive?” Use Christ as your example. Not only does Jesus know about our troubles, he’s experienced them himself. He’s been abandoned and betrayed by loved ones, made to feel cheap by being sold out for coins, had to remain focused on his purpose while his enemies plotted his demise, watched as others who could have helped him did nothing. He was unjustly persecuted and endured one of the most excruciating punishments known to man. Though he could have, never once did he say, “Father, kill them.” Instead, he asked the Lord to forgive them, and asks you to do the same.
Lucky for us, forgiveness is discussed often in the Bible. For instance:
Mark 11:25 “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone so that your Father may forgive your trespasses.
Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Luke 6:36-37 “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful…forgive and you will be forgiven.”
John 20:23 “If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.”
II Corinthians 2: 10 “Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ.”
Making the decision to forgive won’t happen overnight, but forgiving is possible, especially when the desire to blossom in God’s light overrides your desire to hold on to the darkness anger, bitterness and resentment unforgiveness bring into your life.
Now that you have a roadmap, ask yourself, “Is it time for me to forgive?”
Candance L. Greene is a published freelance editor and writer, and is the Editor for Black and Missing Foundation, Inc. She is the founder of Cherishedflight Communications, LLC, an editing and writing service. Check out her blog, About the Writing Life, on her website at www.cherishedflight.com/blog, and follow her on Facebook: Cherishedflight Communications and Twitterwww.twitter.com/cherishedflight.
Leave a comment