June 11, 2018
Forgiveness: An Act of Service
Forgiveness is so simple in some ways, and so complicated in other respects. It’s true whether we are trying to forgive ourselves or forgive a person who has hurt us. As you probably have realized, we often address forgiveness in our devotionals, and my reason is becasue IT IS SO HARD TO FORGIVE! Like most psychological activities, forgiveness is a learned skill. No one is born with a talent for it. Learn it the right way, and then with practice and more practice, you will get much better.
Forgiveness of others is one of the most important choices we need to pull the trigger on after receiving eternal life through Christ’s death on the Cross. Why? Extending forgiveness to those who have wronged us acknowledges our understanding of God and the forgiveness He extends to us. We need God’s forgiveness for our sins in order to have a relationship with Him and be in Heaven with Him. But we also need to live in that forgiveness and forgive ourselves. That’s easier said than done. If you really analyze your view of yourself and some of your motivations, you will see that forgiving yourself is harder than you think.
Jesus died for us so we can have an intimate and incredible relationship with God … an Abundant Life … liberated from sin and Satan. God created us to do good works and to be shining lights. But we can’t become all God designed us to be if we harbor resentment and bitterness towards others or ourselves. It is vital that we make the choice, yes, a decision, to forgive and, if possible, to reconcile with the person who has hurt us.
The first step towards reconciliation begins with your thoughts. One of several areas to think about is the other person’s spiritual and psychological needs rather than their faults. How can you serve that person and God by forgiving them? Then begin to think well of that person and speak well of them to someone close to you, drawing attention to strengths and needs, rather than offenses. Then realize you aren’t perfect and that many people have extended grace to you over the years. Next, take action. Begin to let go of the negativity from the hurt. Instead, look at the lessons you can learn and the growth that can come from them.
You might be in a difficult situation in which the other party is not willing to reconcile. If this is the case, make sure you have forgiven them in your own heart. Then keep yourself ready to pursue further reconciliation, if and when the other person is ready.
Today, ask God to open your eyes, using spiritual lenses to see the other person’s needs and issues. Wait on God’s timing for the individual to join in total reconciliation. It may not be safe to be physically reconciled with some people. Don’t try to force it … let God work it out in His way and time. You are responsible for your heart and your part, not the other person’s. Above all, remember that Jesus loves you, and He will give you the strength and courage you need … abundantly. Whether you forgive or you harbor bitterness and need to extract more punishment from the person who wronged you is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, in all my relationships, help me dwell on things worth praising not criticizing, especially when I think or speak about the one who has offended me. May I walk in forgiveness and be open to reconciliation in Your way and in Your time. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the One died for my forgiveness so I can extend it to others; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious … the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Philippians 4:8
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. Romans 3:23-24
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of a sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. Galatians 5:16-17