14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
What happens to a cut if you leave it unattended? Or a wound? It becomes infected, red and bothersome. In some cases it may become so bad that you will develop gangrene, then sepsis and if still untreated, you will die. This is the same with forgiveness. When we let our sin and the sins of others take over our hearts, we are not allowing God to be who God is. To be our Dad, our leader and to allow Him to heal us.
We forgive the person who bumped into us accidentally in the store, or the one who cut us off in traffic, or the child who throws her cup of milk on the floor for us to clean up. But what about the repeat offenders? What about the people who have sucked the life from our bones and left us there to die? Or perhaps the people we have loved deeply, and yet the effect of their transgressions leave us cold and disenchanted?
How then do we follow the path that Jesus laid out, if we are looking through blur? In a baby step of faith, we remember what God said to Moses, “I am who I am…” (Exodus 3:14)
God is just, righteous, merciful, sovereign, jealous, loving, healing, comforting, reconciling, redeeming, and freeing, the alpha and the omega. He is ultimate. He is all consuming fire. He is who He is. The end.
We cannot argue with the judge of all judges. We cannot undermine God’s love for us. We cannot outdo God’s wrath. With all of this knowledge that we have about who God is, and what He is all about, then doesn’t it seems strange that we would believe that we are somehow capable of being a better judge and jury than God Himself?
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19
What if we have a notion to say “But how do I forgive myself for the things that I have done?” we don’t forgive ourselves. That is why we need Christ, and His salvation. We are imperfect people and it is to God that we repent, not ourselves.
What if we say we will forgive, but then another transgression is had and it is worse than the first transgression? It cuts deeper and hurts more, and we walk away. We say “Now you’ve done it, Now you’ve really messed it up and I won’t forgive you this time” Forgiveness is not a cat with nine lives. It is always, it is the bread and butter of our walk with God. We forgive seven times seventy times. (Matthew 18:22)
What if the people who have hurts us, never ask forgiveness and aren’t sorry. What if they have no idea the pain they’ve caused? What if we say “I will forgive them when they apologize and show me that they mean it” Then we will be waiting a long time because we are not God. We are not in control of others and therefore we can never know if they will ever come to us with a humbled heart.
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13
What if the thing that is hurting us is a memory of sins gone by? Something traumatic, and injuring? Such as abuse, or addiction? What if it has deep roots in our history and we feel like it defines us? And we say “I can’t forgive because it was so grievous and it has turned me into what I am now. It’s because of this thing that I can’t move forward.” Then we remember God loves us just as we are, we are free to come to him at any time, with anything. We remember that the sins that we have committed are forgivable in the eyes of God when asked, and that the sins committed against us, can be wiped clean through Him and Him alone. We remember that He is our healer and our strength. We have value in Christ. We are important and He is our light in the darkness.
What if we do forgive? And the things to which we forgave, happen again? Naturally we build up walls of protection after each incident, because we don’t like the feelings that sprout up, they hurt. This is common, however it is not beneficial when trying to allow God to work through us and in us. We surrender again…remembering the first point. We are not God. God is God. He is sovereign, almighty, just, righteous, merciful, jealous, loving, comforting, redeeming, reconciling, healing and freeing. We let him do what He does, and we start over again.
Forgiveness is not forgetting or condoning the sin, but a decision we make so that we can walk upright in Christ. It is no longer allowing the words/actions of others to affect our lives in a negative way. It is allowing God to be in control of our thoughts, our deeds, and our voices. And finally we remember that our mission as Christians is to reflect God’s character of love, of discipline and of boldness. God has given us the tools to march forward in His honor, believe it or not, but we have them at our fingertips. His word is strong and powerful. We need to bask in His truth always, so that when the battles arise we know what to do and how to do it in an efficient and effective manner.
But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Mark 6:15
This time let us meditate on this verse:
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.
Let’s take some time to reflect on what we are harbouring. Where are we not forgiving? Where do we need to ask for forgiveness? Where are we condemning? Where are we hurting? What is hurting us and how is that pain being manifested in our daily lives?
Are we edifying Christ by keeping these pains in our lives?
Let us write them out in private, because they may be really painful. Let us write them as though no one will ever read them. An honest reflection with nothing holding back. Let us read what we have written as though it weren’t written by ourselves. Let us pray over it and seek God’s forgiveness, his comfort and his care. He cares for each of us, and He knows each of us intimately. Let us offer forgiveness inwardly, and outwardly if God prompts you to do so, and let’s let God be God. He is our saviour, or forgiver, our healer, and He loves each of us with great magnificence.
Thank you that we can come freely to the cross to lay down our burdens and hurt. Help us this week to let go of that hurt and anger that we pack around with us. Let our minds not be focused on the voices and actions from our past that play repeatedly, but instead may we be fixated on the scripture. I pray the Armour of God on our readers, especially for the shield of the faith so that when fiery darts from the enemy attack they are sheltered. I also pray for the breastplate of righteousness to be strapped securely in place. Let it protect the hearts of our readers from being hurt by people in their lives. For the readers who have a “repeat offender” who continually wears them down with words and actions, I pray that you would grow thick skin on them and a firm understanding of who they are in you. Let us leave behind the desire for revenge, and the desire hang on to our past to be used as ammunition in our future. Thank you that you offer us forgiveness for the things we have done. Thank you for our salvation.
In Jesus Name, Amen.