Happy Saturday Folks! I had another post scheduled and planned for today, but the events of the last 24 hours have changed my mind and inspired this real talk post. That other post will go up tomorrow instead.
Forgiveness. That can be a really heavy word. It's something that is so tough to give out, yet it's the most important thing that we can give to others. Yesterday, I found out something that crushed me inside, and I had to make a choice. Do I let it tear me apart and fester into bitterness and continued anger? Or do I choose to forgive, let go, and trust God?
Why is forgiveness so hard for us? As Christians, we have been forgiven by God more times that we deserve in our lives, so why is it so hard for us to give that to others? We are imperfect people, who are loved and saved by a perfect God. We are selfish by nature and if someone hurts us, why would we want to show love and grace and forgiveness to them when they did us wrong? I've heard it said that forgiveness doesn't do anything for the person being forgiven, but rather it sets the forgiver free. It allows God to move in your heart and makes room for love and grace to come in, rather that bitterness and anger. This is a very difficult thing for us to do.
What does the Bible say about forgiving others? Matthew 6:14 & 15 says, "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Also in Matthew 18, we read about the parable of the unmerciful servant. Peter asks Jesus, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?" To which Jesus replies, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." Jesus then goes on to tell a parable about a servant who owes his master a debt. The master threatens to throw the man and his wife and children in jail until the debt can be repaid, but the servant begs him not to, and the master has mercy on him and sets him free, canceling the debt. That same servant then goes out and has a fellow servant who owes him a debt thrown in jail, and has no mercy on the fellow servant like his master had just shown him.
This is like us, we do something wrong and we go before God and beg him for His forgiveness, and He does so without hesitation, casting our wrongs into the bottom of the sea. Yet we then turn around and look those who have wronged us in the face and allow bitterness and anger to fester in our hearts. We are shown so much grace and love from our Heavenly Father, and then we keep it all for ourselves and don't extend it to our brothers and sisters like we are supposed to do.
Friends, I understand how difficult forgiveness is. I have been there before and I will be there again. I promise you that the bitterness and anger you will deal with down the road from not forgiving will be that much more difficult for you. People are flawed and imperfect, and they always will be. People will hurt you and do you wrong, but YOU have the choice of how you let it affect you. Do you choose forgiveness? Or do you choose bitterness? We serve a perfect and loving God who will never let us down and who will love us with open arms even though we sin against Him every single day. That hurt that you feel from the person you are angry at? How much worse is the hurt that God feels every single day when the people He created sin against Him? Yet He loves us enough to say, "I forgive you." We need to do that too. You will be glad you did.
Forgiveness or Bitterness? The choice is yours. Last night, I chose to forgive... and I hope you do too.