Two years ago I wrote a post, "The Bible Says That Forgiveness Is Mandatory", in it I wrote; "The Bible does, in many places, command us to forgive each other. Here are two examples:
- Matthew 6:14 (HCSB) “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well.
- Ephesians 4:32 (HCSB) And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
Matthew 18:21-22 (HCSB) 21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus said to him, “but 70 times seven.
The Bible also tells us that if we don’t forgive we won’t be forgiven.
- Matthew 6:14-15 (HCSB) 14 “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. 15 But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.
- Mark 11:25-26 (HCSB) 25 And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing. [ 26 But if you don’t forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your wrongdoing.]” A forgiving spirit is made easier for Christians when they consider how much God has already forgiven.
Today I read a devotional that is the perfect compliment to that post, especially when it comes to forgiving those who it is most difficult to forgive; those who have hurt us so deep we never thought we would get over it; those closest to us; those that we feel are unforgivable.
I'm sharing the entire devotion written by by Lysa TerKeurst
Have you ever struggled to choose forgiveness over bitterness in the midst of feeling rejected, abandoned, or hurt? Maybe you’re there right now as you prepare to spend time with friends and family over the holidays. Deep hurts from loved ones can feel so very raw and unresolved in the midst of a season that’s supposed to be full of joy and gratefulness.
Let me be the friend who takes you by the hand to say... I understand. Choosing to forgive is hard, especially when it feels like you or someone you care for has been treated unfairly.
But the truth is, it’s good (and biblical) for us to extend forgiveness. And when we release the offense into the hands of God, we can begin to make room for healing in our hearts.
Here are 3 things to remember when forgiving others is the last thing we want to do:
1. Forgiveness doesn’t justify them, it frees YOU!
Forgiving someone is making the decision to choose mercy and grace over bitterness and resentment. To love God is to cooperate with His grace. Luke 6:36 says,
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Since I’m so very aware of my own need for grace, I must be willing to freely give it away, too.
Each hole left from rejection must become an opportunity to create more and more space for grace in my heart. Forgiveness doesn’t validate them, and it doesn’t justify their hurtful actions.
Giving grace helps me. It sets me free.
What does giving grace look like in my life?
...do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. — Luke 6:27b–Luke 6:28
2. Today I will:
Speak with honor in the midst of being dishonored.
Speak with peace in the midst of being threatened.
Speak of good things in the midst of a bad situation.
We have an enemy, but it’s not each other.
Truth proclaimed and lived out is a fiercely accurate weapon against evil.
3. How I feel:
I very much feel like my struggle is against them.
I have been deeply hurt by this struggle.
It’s hard to see that my struggle isn’t with them or caused by them.
However, truth tells me something different. Truth says I have an enemy... but it’s not the person I’m trying hard to forgive. They may very well be the cause of some hurt in my life, but they’re not my enemy.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. — Ephesians 6:12
Point your crosshairs at the real enemy and start firing off positive statements about this person who has caused pain in your life. List three things about them that are good. Then remember a fourth and fifth. Picture each of these positive statements wounding the devil and shaming him away from you.
Forgiveness releases an offense into the hands of God so that you can heal.
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean I’ll get my storybook ending. But it will bring peace and honor to a situation that would otherwise leave me bitter, defensive, and hurting. I have to trust God to get me through this forgiveness journey so that I can finally heal.
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you. — Isaiah 26:3
Lift up your hurt and honest feelings to the Lord through prayer, whether it’s written or verbal. Here’s one to get you started:
Lord, I don’t know all the details entangled in this issue. But You know all. Therefore, You are the only one who can handle all. There are a lot of things my flesh is tempted to seek — fairness, my right to be right, proof of their wrongdoing, to make them see things from my vantage point — but at this point, the only thing healthy for me to seek is You. You alone. I’m going to be obedient to You and let You handle everything else. In Your Name, Amen.
~by Lysa TerKeurst for Devotionals Daily featuring Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely, copyright TerKeurst Foundation.