“Which is harder, to say “your sins are forgiven?” or “get up and walk?”
Can I take a moment and answer that? The forgiveness (yes that “F” word) of sins part has definitely got to be harder. Like by a long shot. And I say this because I will tell people all day to have faith that to do what Jesus says, but for me forgiveness is not as easy as telling people to “just have faith” that what He says is true.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
The Lord’s Prayer. I take the words of Jesus pretty seriously, and those words are pretty hard to stomach sometimes. “And forgive us our tresspasses, AS WE… forgive those who trespass against us.” Verse 14 spells it out more. If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you, and then 15, but if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Following Christ isn’t easy my friends. And this is one of those acts of obedience that I can easily forget about, until I am confronted by the truth. And that is what happened Saturday morning, when someone called me out on it. The truth felt like a truck hit me. I was holding onto hurt from 20 years ago. 2 decades is a long time to hold unforgiveness, and carry it in your heart. But that is what happened, for more than half my life.
I am not one who is an expert at forgiveness by any means…obviously, did you read the paragraph above? But I do want to share the one thing that happened this weekend that changed my heart.
Before I get there though, I want to offer another few things I have learned about forgiveness over the years, and I want to share them with you today in hopes that they will help you.
When you forgive, well when you are obedient to Christ in general, the outcome is not guaranteed.
Honestly it can blow up in your face. There was a time when I reached out to the person who had hurt me with some well wishes because I heard she was going through a hard time, and I was told to have a nice life because I had ruined hers. Not the response you would like when trying to offer love. But it happened. And I am sure you have experienced something like this as well. When this happens it is hard to remember why loving others, and being obedient is actually worth it. But it is imperative to know that you are not responsible for others reactions. With that said though, at the end of the day, you will be held accountable to your faithfulness to Christ.
Be obedient, and leave the outcome to Him. But when you step out in faith, you have to remember that He works together for the good of those who love Him.
Admitting you were wrong, and forgiving are two different things.
6 or 7 years ago I saw this old friend at a distance. It had been years since I saw her, and I began to panic. I realized at that point that I probably hadn’t forgiven her if I felt this way. So as I was praying about what to do, I realized that I was wrong in the situation as well, because in my hurt, I didn’t respond in a loving manner. So I messaged her apologizing for the way I responded to her. Considering the reponse I got from my past communication, I requested that she not response to my message, and that was honored.
But I realized this weekend that taking ownership of your own actions, and apologizing for what you did wrong, does not equal forgiveness.
If you get anxiety when you think about or see the person that hurt you, that is probably a sign that you have not forgiven them.
My anxiety has been slowly growing for the past month or so, and honestly I couldn’t pin point it until a couple days ago. I knew when it began. It began with the storm that we got caught in while on my parents boat. And the storm basically ended up being the realization that the count down of me seeing my old friend pretty regularly had begun. Along with the realization that I could be living in a state of anxiety like everyday come the Fall.
For me there was no answer. And I not only fearing how my son and daughter would transition to the Fall, but how I would handle it myself.
Forgiving doesn’t mean that you need to let the person into your life again.
Forgiveness is just not allowing that person to have a death hold on your heart anymore. I had a conversation a few years ago with a pastor about my fear of running into someone that had hurt me, and how I should respond to her. And his responses wasn’t what I expected. He said that seeing her was inevitable. What was more important was getting me to a place that when I did, I would be okay (wise words my friends).
So what changed my heart this weekend, and what did I do with that?
When there is unforgiveness (well anything that isn’t from God) in your heart, there is less room for His spirit, and the fruit that comes from that. Two of those famous “fruits” are faithfulness, and thankfulness.
And thankfulness was what changed my heart. That verse be thankful in all things…. It seems so simple now, but I began to remember how much our friendship had meant to me, and how much she had impacted my life in a positive way. Thankfulness took over, and hurt moved out. So what did I do? I wrote a message of thankfulness. It wasn’t a message asking reconciliation, or the desire to be friends. But a message of a changed heart, one that will remember the person who God used many years ago, to shape me into the person I am today.
What happens when you forgive…
When you forgive, you will experience freedom. Unforgiveness will not be your chain anymore. Forgiving others is an act of obedience and can be like saying to God, I don’t know how this is going to work out, I don’t know if this is going to end well, I just need to trust that You are in control here and not me.
I sent the message literally minutes before worship at church yesterday. I sent it not knowing how this is going to turn out. Knowing this could blow up in my face again. And the tears flew down as we all sang truths like what a beautiful name it is, peace be still, I give my life to the One who saved me, and every little thing is going to be alright. And you know what, it doesn’t matter how it turns out, because when you take the posture of faith, you can stand on His solid foundation knowing that you don’t have to have it all figured out, because He works for your good because you love Him.
Do yourself a favor…
The person you need forgive may not deserve your forgiveness. But we don’t really don’t deserve forgiveness either, yet God offered us mercy (not giving us what we deserve), by sending His son to pay the cost of our sins. And God gave it freely. Forgiveness is a sacrifice, but a sacrifice that leads to freedom from things that can feel like a chain on your heart.
As I said, I am not expert on forgiviness, but I want to offer you a great to start if there is someone you need to forgive… thankfulness. Be obedient, and let God be God.