“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32, NIV
I know, I always use animal photos in my visual aids and use them as examples in my writings but they are my gift and my passion! Besides, they can always show us how forgiveness works, can’t they? You can be angry with them and they’ll still shower you with love. Our God in heaven is like that. He forgives us if we but ask Him to and are repentant in our hearts. The funny thing is, we often aren’t nearly as generous as our Holy and Sovereign God. We struggle with forgiveness. I heard this message about forgiveness ALL week so I know emphatically that God is wanting me to GET this!
I remember Corrie Ten Boom telling a story about how she had to forgive the very SS Nazi soldier who tortured her and others in the concentration camp in Germany during WWII. She could not do it on her own forgiveness. She prayed fervently as this man approached her after a speech she’d given, to shake her hand and wonder aloud at the forgiveness of God. Corrie did not want to shake his hand and she did not want to forgive this man that had been so horrible to her during her incarceration and caused the loss of her sister’s life.
She prayed and asked God to give her HIS forgiveness because she could not forgive this man. When their hands made contact she felt a warm love flooding through her for this man and knew that it was the love of God pouring through her out to the man who had been her tormentor. God was showing her His forgiveness and through it, she was able to forgive this man.
I’ve been struggling with forgiveness and I know it’s why it’s come up so much lately in the radio shows I’ve listened to, to the devotionals I read online, etc. It’s a recurring theme in my life lately. I also heard John McArthur teach on one of his radio shows last week about forgiveness. It was his words that really struck me in my heart.
When we don’t forgive, plain and simple, we are saying we are above God. It’s our pride that is keeping our hearts from forgiving. When we don’t forgive we’re saying that God could forgive by sending His only begotten Son to die on a Cross for us -He who was without sin -who took our place, but that we can’t.
Jesus willingly came down from glory in Heaven, to live a very humble existence as a human, born in the lowliest of forms, to die the most humiliating and agonizing death for us who are not worthy and He’s the King of Heaven! He humbled Himself in order that we might be spared eternal separation from God and damnation. He forgave us our sins through His death on the cross and resurrection.
How then can we not forgive? I remember John McArthur saying that if we humble ourselves to the point of always putting others first, putting them above us, knowing they are better than us, then we won’t be able to NOT forgive. Why? Because when people reject us or hurt us we’ll feel they were justified and we won’t react in our pride of unforgiveness. By considering them our betters, we won’t be offended at things they say or do to us in other words. Wow, that is hard!
Now isn’t that just so contrary to the world system and what we’re told here on earth? We’re told to “get ours” to stand up for ourselves, to not get mad get even and so on. That is NOT what God wants for us though. The world system will always be contrary to God’s way. Just as God’s measurement of success is far different than the world’s. Jeremiah being a prime example. He was poor, lowly, abused, rejected, ridiculed but ultimately he was right wasn’t he? He didn’t have to justify or defend himself, the Lord did that for him. In fact, in God’s eyes Jeremiah was very successful because he was obedient and faithful to God. Rather than being angry or even vengeful, Jeremiah wept for his nation and people, no matter what they did to Him. Why? Because he was not only a humble, forgiving man but because He believed God!
So, the next time you’re thinking you can’t forgive someone, just remember what Jesus did for us and then ask yourself, are you better than Jesus that you can’t forgive -no matter what it is? Especially when God forgives us all the time. I know I can’t do it on my own, but as I’ve stated before I can do all things through Christ Jesus who gives me strength. He also gave me His forgiveness and it’s His forgiveness that lives in me through His Holy Spirit.