I used to be one of the ones who wouldn’t, if you wronged me I would remember it always, nothing you could ever do would be good enough for me to forgive you.
My family and I were victims of racial bullies, growing up in a small town where we were the only ones different than everyone else made us the target of all sorts of ridicule, hatred and even vandalism in the form of eggs and a wide assortment of vegetables being thrown at us and our house.
It took a long time to overcome that hatred and forgive those responsible of the fear and hate growing in my own heart, but I did it…eventually.
It’s often said that some people’s actions are unforgivable, in most cases it’s the victims of rape and child abuse that have the hardest time with it, and understandably so, if I was the victim of child molestation I would probably not want to forgive either.
Here’s the thing though, forgiveness happens often times from those we would least expect it from. The families that lost theirs sons and daughters in the church shooting a few months ago forgave the guy who did it, once more they went as far as to share with him the gospel of Jesus Christ. Do you know what that means? It means that if the killer were to accept Jesus into his heart than he would one day share heaven with those he hurt the most, with the people he killed.
Forgiveness is a lost idea on much of our culture and the idea is beginning to infiltrate our own hearts.
When an atrocity is committed, forgiveness is the farthest thing from our minds, and yet to Jesus it’s the first thing He offers.
The secular world does not offer forgiveness, in fact they think it’s a stupid idea. I’m often confronted with the virtue of forgiveness and how people today don’t want it offered.
You do something bad, you pay the price, but forgiveness is nowhere in sight.
You do something terrible and you paying the price is not good enough, you should be locked up for good and the key…thrown away. Forgiveness is nowhere in sight.
As a Christian, and I’m sure you would agree we love the virtues Paul talks about, faith, hope and love. But if we were honest with ourselves we would admit that forgiveness is just as hard for us as it is for everyone else.
Sure when it comes to people we love and people we respect we are quick to extend the hand of forgiveness. But what about the ones who oppose us and hate us for our beliefs? What about those that kill our Christian brothers and sisters? What about the ones that have taken advantage of our children?
We preach forgiveness but do we practice it?
Jesus forgave us before we even knew what we were doing, He forgave us while we were doing what we were doing, and He forgave us after we did it.
The idea that a slate can be wiped clean is to the secular world a bad idea. The idea that Jesus already did it should be to us something we model everyday.
Lines are being drawn in the sand and it’s us doing the drawing, those that stand against the almighty Jesus want to stand their and we are letting it happen, everytime they accuse us of being a bigot we should walk up to them and say “you’re right, I am” and then remind them that forgiveness is offered not only for the bigots but also for those who hate the bigots, those that yell obscenities at the bigots and those that want the bigots dead.
You see salvation is not only for the broken believer but also for the broken world and it’s inhabitants, forgiveness is mine, it’s yours and it’s theirs, forgiveness comes from a heart that wants to be free of the torture of holding onto that pain that keeps you in chains. Forgiveness was modeled for us, and all we have to do is follow the example, who cares if they don’t want to hear it, walk up to the one that holds the key to your freedom and forgive them, for it is then and only then that you take the key from them and unlock the chains that hold you down, only then will you be able to understand what freedom truly looks like, only then will you see the world through the lens of forgiveness and begin to offer it here, there, and everywhere.
Among the virtues that the world holds dear, are perseverance, fortitude, acceptance, assertiveness, bravery, confidence, determination, creativity and curiosity. All good things, but in and of themselves aren’t the whole picture. Forgiveness is lost.
The “all is forgiven” logic is lost on those that don’t believe, and we can show them that it’s not only a good idea but the one and only true way to be free.
When you refuse forgiveness you hand over your freedom to those that hurt you, until you offer up forgiveness they will hold power over you, when you forgive you take that power and only then will you know what it means to break the chains.
I call forgiveness the lost virtue because it’s not one like to use, Christian or not forgiving someone who wronged you is hard but for Jesus followers such as myself we should… we need to make this a priority, I know it’s not easy, I know that many times the person you’re forgiving doesn’t want it, or won’t even hear it, but don’t do it for them, do it for you so you can enjoy and truly know what it means to be free of that bitter resentment you hold towards them.
It’s hard but remember that it was done for you even before you could ask for it.
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