Today, I want to take our first step toward inner healing by talking about an attitude of our hearts that is a key to our inner transformation, this attitude is forgiveness. It would be hard for us to overestimate the importance of forgiveness to our Lord. It is the very centerpiece of Christianity. Forgiveness is why the Lord left the glories of heaven to be born as a man, and to die bearing the sins of the world. He did all of this, so that we could be forgiven. Our forgiveness came with a high price, no wonder that our Lord asks us to model this same quality to a broken world.
Embedded in the Lord’s prayer is this critical verse, Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. Matthew 6:12. The meaning of that verse may seem self-explanatory, but just in case we may have breezed by it, or become too familiar with it, the Holy Spirit adds two more verses that emphasize this same truth, For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you no not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. Matthew 6:14-15. You can see that the issue of forgiveness is a huge deal to the Lord and that our finding forgiveness in His sight requires our releasing forgiveness to others --- to anyone and to everyone who has hurt us. Do you hear how the Lord keeps linking our forgiving another person, anyone at all, with our finding forgiveness in His sight?
There is another reason why our walking in forgiveness toward others is important. Refusal to forgive is one of the strategies or schemes of the enemy of our souls. II Corinthians 2:11 teaches that when we refuse to forgive, the enemy, Satan, can take advantage of us. This is dangerous territory; we don’t want to be trapped there! Paul gives us this positive action to take to get us out of the enemy’s camp, Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone, just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Colossians 3:12
To forgive in New Testament Greek is the word, aphiemi. It simply means to take away, to carry off, to send away, to keep no longer, to let go, as in to forgive a debt. When we forgive someone we are releasing that person to the Lord for His judgment. Forgiveness will sometimes lead to reconciliation, but not always.
Forgiveness can be hard to do! Sometimes the hurt goes so deep and the pain is so unbearable that the very memory of something associated with that person, the transgressor, will bring up the sting of the hurtful memory. That is why we are talking about the process of forgiveness. Often forgiveness is not a one-time deal. Sometimes we don’t even know how to begin the process. For me the way to begin is just to turn to the Lord and ask Him to make me willing to forgive. As He does this, then I ask Him to give me the grace (read strength!) to forgive that person. As He provides the grace I release that person as much as I can. The process is like peeling an onion, layer-by-layer, until the onion is finally gone and over time, and with the Helper giving the strength, forgiveness is accomplished! You can see why the Lord told Peter that we must forgive seven times seventy. He wasn’t giving a legalistic number; he was saying keep peeling that onion until it is gone!
Some other things about forgiveness:
The person you are forgiving doesn’t have to deserve it.
The person you are forgiving doesn’t have to ask for it.
The person you are forgiving doesn’t have to be sorry for what they did.
You don’t have to feel like forgiving them.
You don’t have to trust the person, but you have to forgive them.
We all deal with this issue of forgiveness. Some of us have deep painful wounds of abandonment, abuse and rejection. Some have more superficial wounds that have come through the misunderstandings and pressures of daily living, but we all deal with the issue of forgiveness. If you have not already done so, begin on the path of releasing your bitterness and resentments, begin on the path toward walking in forgiveness, and you will experience freedom, release and healing.
Lord, I thank You that You have shown us the path of life. Thank You that I grasp the importance of walking in forgiveness. As I wait on you now, will you bring to my mind someone that I need to forgive?
I choose by Your enabling strength and grace to release forgiveness to_________. Thank you that you are leading me to freedom and inner healing. In Jesus precious name, Amen
For more on forgiveness, our recommendation is RT Kendall’s book, Total Forgiveness.