Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you .
(Ephesians 4:32, NIV)
We are all betrayed and rejected in life, but what do we do with those disappointments? Do we hold onto grudges? Do we seek revenge? Do we malign those people in conversations with friends? Each of these responses are aspects of our human nature, but as Christians we have the nature of God and the Holy Spirit living in us. Jesus calls us to forgive as He has forgiven us.
After teaching us how to pray in Matthew 6, Jesus said, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6: 14–15, NKJV). We all need the Father’s forgiveness!
In a recent devotion I read on forgiveness it said, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be healed?” We can be stubborn if we don’t get our way. Many of our conflicts erupt over trivial matters—a difference of opinion, an unmet expectation, or a harsh word. If the offense was greater (like physical abuse), healthy boundaries are good, but God places no parameters on forgiveness. We are to forgive all from our hearts no matter what they have done to us.
Who do you still need to forgive?
To protect my own heart, I have a tendency to pull away from people who have wounded me, even though I have forgiven them, but wonder if that is true forgiveness? In Colossians 3, Paul said that we, as the elect of God, should clothe ourselves with kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering and bear with one another and forgive one another as Christ forgave us. He said this is something we must do. Being kind and bearing with one another sounds like engagement rather than retreat. This year, I am issuing a challenge. Why don’t we take a step toward true forgiveness and see how God works through our surrendered heart.