I find it so fascinating that every time I have gone to church recently - no matter what church - I hear exactly what I need to hear. It's really amazing what you'll hear when you truly open your eyes and ears. (Well...open your eyes, anyway. I don't know if someone can technically "open" their ears!)
We visited a different church a week or so ago and the pastor's sermon was on forgiveness. One thing that struck me in particular was "Biblical Forgiveness." He mentioned that when we're wronged and we tell someone we forgive them, it's supposed to be "Biblical Forgiveness," which means TRUE forgiveness. The kind of forgiveness that has no ifs, ands or buts. Biblical forgiveness is not any of these:
I forgive you...until you do it again!
I forgive you...but I'll never forget.
I forgive you...but I'm going to bring it up the next time we argue.
We need to learn to forgive like God forgives. He doesn’t say, "I forgive you...except for that one thing you did. That was REALLY bad!" He doesn’t bring up past transgressions to remind us about them. Once he's forgiven them, they're gone - wiped clean. Micah 7:18-19 says, "Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea." God is compassionate - "he delights in showing mercy." The band Audio Adrenaline has a song called Ocean Floor that talks about that very verse. They lyrics say, "They're all behind you/They'll never find you/They're on the ocean floor/Your sins are forgotten/They're on the bottom/Of the ocean floor." (It's a great song. If you're interested, here's a link to the video.) That’s exactly what we need to do when we are wronged by someone
I realized I've been holding on to several things recently where I need to truly forgive the person – and then just let go of it. Later after that church service when we were at home, I said something to my husband about someone who had "done me wrong" and how irritated I still was with them. A little while later I thought, how childish and petty of me! I’m still dwelling on that insignificant thing that really doesn't matter! AND we just heard a sermon on forgiveness! Gaaah!
Being angry at people that have wronged us and dwelling on past mistakes is a sure fire way to bring ourselves down. It's definitely not going to put us in a good frame of mind and can cause more heartache and pain for us in our everyday lives. If I'm angry at someone and dwelling on it, I might take it out on the people I'm most often around - my family or friends - and that's definitely not fair to them!
Let me note that I'm not saying to let yourself be tread upon - by all means you have to stand up for yourself, your faith, your family, whatever the case may be. I'm just saying not to dwell and let your life be consumed by hatred or bitterness of a person or problem. And if someone comes to you asking for forgiveness, it's in everyone's best interest to give it to them! If we expect God to forgive us, we have to be forgiving of others. Colossians 3:13 says, "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."
Forgiveness is something that a lot of couples struggle with too. It's very easy to bring up your spouse's past mistakes in the heat of a fight. And it's definitely NOT easy to say, "I forgive you" - especially if you're upset, if you feel that you're right & they're wrong, etc. - but if we want to practice Biblical forgiveness, we need to truly mean what we say and not hold things over people. I know I am guilty of holding grudges about the dumbest of things. Just a few days ago I had a disagreement with my husband about something petty. He came up to me a short while later and said, "I'm sorry" and I ignored him. I was still very angry and didn't feel like saying, "I forgive you." How foolish is that? We have since worked out our differences on that issue but I hope in the future I will be able to remember this blog post and be more readily forgiving.
We say the Lord's Prayer every Sunday at church and this past week I was particularly reminded of forgiveness when we came to the line, "And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." (Some churches say debtors instead of trespasses - pretty much the same thing!) The whole Lord's Prayer is important but that line in particular always seems to stand out to me. It usually brings to mind any problems I'm having with others and I try to pray about them right then when I think of them. The Bible mentions forgiveness so many times and in so many different ways, but the thing that I notice the most is how we are constantly reminded that we are supposed to forgive as God forgives - Biblical Forgiveness! Mark 11:25 says, "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." I'm going to make an effort to work on this in my own life and I challenge you to try to remember the verses I've mentioned here in your daily lives to help you as well!
FILED UNDER: Encouragement