Bear with each other, and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13 NIV
Forgive. A seven letter word that appears to be simple, but as you and I know the word forgive is more then it appears. It is an action word that is easier to say, describe, and toss about then it is to actually do.
Forgive is one of those words that sits in the background of life with a medicinal purpose. It is a powerful word of action if one chooses to exercise it. When wielded it dispenses the power of healing, liberation, and restoration. All sounds good doesn’t it? But here’s the catch. Forgive has a nemesis and its name is injury and injury dispenses pain.
We’ve all been there, we’ve all experienced injury and its vinegar of pain. It is a natural human reaction to respond to injury with anger, resentment, hate, the desire for revenge and justice to be seen. In fact, we feel that those reactionary feelings are justified and for some strange reason we believe that in responding so, that we are punishing our offender. But that is simply not true. If we continue to exercise our reactionary feelings all we have succeeded to do is prolong our pain and continue to supply fuel to the injury heaped upon us.
To be perfectly honest, I’ve been there and didn’t even realize it! Biding my time to let hurt and anger subside. Convincing myself that “moving-on” would suffice. This method is not exercising forgiveness. It’s called, sweeping it under the carpet. And what do we get if we make that a lifetime practice? One gigantic junky bump. This bump will eventually trip us up and cause a nasty face-plant.
Negative reactionary feelings are not profitable left unattended. In fact while we convinced ourselves that we’ve moved-on, those negative feelings continue to brew below the surface and before long another word begins to creep onto the scene.
What word is this creeper? A word that we, not our offender, give birth to and cultivate. It’s a pretty nasty customer and shows up on our faces, in our speech, and actions. It is ours and ours alone. Its name is bitterness and its only worth is that if it is present, then forgiveness is not.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14 NIV
At the beginning of this post I mentioned a few benefits of forgiveness. But there are a couple of things I didn’t mention. 1. Forgiveness is like the weed killer Round Up. When exercised it not only liberates us from anger, resentment, hate, and the need of revenge, but it kills the roots of bitterness and totally frees us from self victimization. 2. Forgiveness removes negative emotions and replaces them with the fruits of the spirit, love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
Forgive – Not So Easy
The Title of this post is Forgive – Not So Easy and that is a fact. But if we belong to Christ, then we have no option but to forgive. It is His command and not to do it places us in disobedience and out of fellowship with God.
So what makes forgiving a not-so-easy task? It’s really not that difficult to figure out. It’s hard because we attempt to forgive through our own power. This is why it’s fleeting and unsuccessful in liberating us from the byproducts of reactionary negative emotions.
The fact is forgiveness is a gift, God’s gift and to achieve dispensing true forgiveness, the type that Christ dispenses, the one that does not continue to rehash injury or throw it up in one’s face over and over, the one that liberates us from all negative reactions and squashes the root of bitterness, can only be achieved by inviting God into the process.
It is not through our power but His that brings about forgiveness. He is the author of it and the deliverer of it. His forgiveness is restorative.
Which Brand of Forgiveness?
I have lived on both ends. Dispensing my own brand of forgiveness and allowing God to exercise His forgiveness through me. My brand failed, His did not.
So what did I do differently beside invite God into the process? I had to die to myself, I had to die to the right to retaliate, seek revenge, anger, hate, and justice. I had to lay them all down in order to pick up forgiveness.
Like I said, not-so-easy but it can be done. Yield, lay it down and let God flood us with His brand of forgiveness. When we do a reaction begins inside and it starts with healing and ends with total liberation and restoration.
This business of dying to self is hard work, but it’s work well worth it because there is nothing sweeter then being free from pain and in good fellowship with God.
May you continue to “Fight the Good fight.” 2 Tim 4:7