Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” Luke 1:3-4
Unforgiveness breeds contempt and bitterness. It breaks down families, destroys friendships. It causes stress, anxiety, depression, and even illness.
Jesus tells me that if a brother sins against me, and repents, I am to forgive him, even if he sins over and over and over again.
Forgiveness is what reopens the door to relationship. It is what ushers in reconciliation and redemption. Forgiveness is what allows me to be enveloped into God’s family.
In the past, I looked at forgiveness as letting a person off the hook for hurting me. I thought that withholding forgiveness would make them somehow feel guilt or shame, feel sorry for what they did; that maybe it would make them suffer like I did. I thought that not forgiving would help me control the situation and protect myself.
But I was mistaken. Forgiveness isn’t as much for the person who hurt me as it is for me. When I forgive someone, whether they are still in my life or not, I am taking myself out of the position of judge, jury, and executioner. I’m not letting them off the hook; I’m turning them over to God to deal with. When I forgive, I take away their ability to control, to manipulate, to harm (even when they don’t realize they had that power). When I forgive, I am obeying Christ and following His example. I am reestablishing connection in my heart, allowing healing and inviting in renewal.
It has taken me a while to get to the place where I am able to actively forgive, having come to the understanding that often forgiveness is based on my will, a desire to not walk in sin than a feeling that I have. It can seem so much easier sometimes to hold onto the anger, to feel justified in wallowing in the hurt. Sometimes it takes a moment and sometimes it takes much longer, but I’ve realized that when I say those simple words ‘I forgive you’, out loud or in my heart, it brings freedom.
Jesus didn’t tell me to forgive because it is easy. He told me to forgive because he knows that what I sow I will also reap. When I make the active choice to offer forgiveness seventy times seven, I will in turn be offered the same through Him.
Resurrection weekend is a time to remember what Christ did for me out of mercy, out of forgiveness. It is a time for me to remember His ultimate sacrifice that made it possible for me to forgive and for me to be forgiven. His death and resurrection made it possible for offense to go into the grave and stay there forever. His act of will helps me to choose love through forgiveness.
Yesappa, thank You for Your love, Your mercy, and Your forgiveness today and always. Thank You for Your sacrifice that allows me to bury offense and live in freedom. Thank You for reminding me that the measure I forgive, is the measure in which I am forgiven. Lord, if there is any place of unforgiveness in my heart, please reveal it to me, and help me release it. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)
Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.