Have you ever hurt someone by a decision, word, or action? I have. I surprise (and disappoint) myself sometimes with behavior that lacks Christ’s heart, or His life-giving spirit.
I don’t think I’m alone in this dilemma. We’ve all experienced (and caused at times) the bruises of relationship and the thwarting of expectations, hopes, and dreams as we live alongside others.
Because of this universal reality, one of our greatest needs in this life is the need to offer and receive forgiveness.
It’s difficult to make it to lunchtime without encountering the need to offer (or receive) forgiveness! Withholding it from another person—or rejecting it when it’s offered to you—leads to a range of troubles: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Additionally, unforgiveness is devastating to personal relationships.
Bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice. These are the fruits of unforgiveness, as described in Ephesians 4:30-31, and they rot from the moment they are harvested.
Kindness and compassion, in contrast, reflect the example of the forgiveness we have received from God through Christ. And in Christ Himself, we have the ultimate example of what it looks like to offer forgiveness to others. Some of His last recorded words before His death were words of forgiveness toward those who were actively killing Him!
If Christ can forgive his murderers, then, no hurt in our lives is beyond God’s capacity to reconcile and forgive. With God’s strength we are able to forgive way beyond what we believe is possible, or what even is possible when we’re acting on our own!
Forgiveness is a choice. When we choose to offer or receive forgiveness, we are choosing to trust the Lord…even when our feelings may shout, I cannot do this! And when we make this often difficult choice, we continue to trust the Lord by leaving the outcomes—and the relationships—in His hands.
Dear Heavenly Father,
There are things in my life that are very difficult for me to face and ask forgiveness for. I need your strength and perspective to deal with these issues. Reveal to me, Lord, the pride and selfishness that block your healing touch.
Please shine Your spotlight on any hidden area in my life where I have disappointed, minimized, or neglected You by withholding forgiveness. And give me the strength to offer forgiveness to others who have mistreated me. Help me to express kindness and compassion to them whenever I am in their presence.
May You be pleased and glorified as I offer, seek, and receive forgiveness.