Deciding to Forgive
Deciding to Forgive
We must be reminded of the benefits of forgiving others. John MacArthur put it this way: “Forgiveness unleashes joy. It brings peace. It washes the slate clean. It sets all the highest values of love in motion. In a sense, forgiveness is Christianity at its highest level.”
I have talked with people who believe they have truly forgiven their offender – they have pressed the delete key – but they still feel stuck emotionally. When they think of that person they have deep emotions that tie them up in knots. They are not able to move forward with any kind of peace or freedom. Their emotions are still holding them back. At this point we must look at God’s Word. It is the most important key to complete forgiveness. God’s word requires us to go above and beyond just releasing our offenders, we must extend the grace of God and build bridges of love by returning blessings for cursing’s, good for evil. Paul stated it this way: Romans 12:20 (ESV) 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
We may have stated that we have forgiven them that we’re not holding a grudge. We may also have stated that we have released our offenders from the grip of any anger and vengeance that we may have. The most important things is that God wants us to live in the kind of freedom that demonstrates His attributes and His love in every aspect of our lives including our smile, and handshake. Complete forgiveness goes much deeper than just saying, “I’ve forgiven them.” The 17th century Puritan pastor Thomas Watson put it: “When do we forgive others? When we strive against all the thoughts of revenge; when we will not do our enemy mischief, but wish well to them, grieve at their calamities, pray for them, seek reconciliation with them, and show ourselves ready on all occasions to relieve them. This is gospel forgiving.” Think about what Thomas Watson as just stated that places a pretty high bar on forgiveness. We are called to forgive others as God has forgiven us. How has God forgiven us? He didn’t just say to us, “Your forgiven.” He gave His Son’s life for us when we were His enemies. Take a moment and think what God has forgiven us of. He pursued us when we wanted nothing to do with Him. He adopted us into His family He comforts us and meets our daily needs. Psalm 68:19 (ESV) 19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.
That is the character of forgiveness that we need to model in all areas of our lives. To forgive someone opens the blinds and raises the windows, letting the breezes of God’s grace bring its healing into our lives. When we take the deliberate step to bless our offenders, to love our enemies, we are able to enter into the full power of God’s total forgiveness.
Each of us are free moral agents, we are free to make our own choices. But in order to be completely be pleasing to God we must make the decision to forgive our offenders, those that have offended us. Matthew 6:14–15 (ESV) 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
We really have no choice if we are going to be pleasing to God as forgiveness is a commandment.