One of the most powerful lessons I ever had in forgiveness was from when we did night outreach into the red light district in Suffolk UK in 2005. I had promised to take a woman we had become friends with to visit her parent’s graves. They had both been addicts and died when she was young. Yep you have already guessed what happened next – I forgot!
Thinking she would never speak to me again or at least verbally kick off at me I was shocked when she came over and just said ” we are ok you and I. I was upset but its all ok between us now I just need you to know that”. Right there and then I received forgiveness. That was all before I had the chance to say sorry!
The fact that she had forgiven me was unbelievable but could I now dig deep enough to forgive myself as well?
The fact that we are human beings having soul – free will, desires and emotions can sometimes keep us locked in a prison of unforgiveness. The consequences can lend itself either to others or ourselves, meaning we and others can miss out on moving forward and living in the provision of freedom for our hearts and minds that God has granted.
We are created to carry the presence and nature of God therefore able to act externally and internally making quality choices as Christ did when He encountered conflict and disappointment. I always take great comfort knowing that Jesus experienced many malicious acts against Him and came out the other side. What I notice through reading the gospel stories is: rejection, beatings, false accusation to name a few and that the response of Jesus was from the lens of carrying the presence of God.
Gods nature can be found in Galatians 5: 22-26 often referred to as the fruit of his spirit, it enables us live as true representatives of Gods kingdom. Without having an active friendship with God through the work of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit we will not be able to display the fruit of His Spirit. So there is a challenge straight away for us to keep developing and investing time into our friendship with God to walk in His ways.
God would like us to walk daily in practicing the art of forgiveness. Firstly so we can be free and feel good each day rid of the anger and bitterness that often takes root and shows up in our actions and secondly that others can experience the love of God through us.
In Matthew 6:12 -15 part of the way through Jesus said to pray, ” forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who hurt us”, sometimes it can be difficult to as God for this knowing that we hold grudges/ pain/ wounds of offense in our hearts and minds. Unforgiveness can produce toxic emotions in us causing pain and discomfort to us and those around us.
In Mathew 18:21- 35 we find the story of the unforgiving slave how many times to forgive we are told 70 x 7 meaning lots in this passage and from the heart meaning there is emotion attached to forgiving whether it be tears, relief or a sense of closure. As a forgiver or the forgiven either way it will have an emotion and impact that comes with it. Unforgiveness has emotions attached to it as in obsession with recounting events or pain on seeing the person or feeling anger then experience it turning to bitterness which can be so destructive. So it would be fair to say that forgiveness from the heart has emotions too.
There tends to be two ways to walk in forgiveness: –
1. A catalyst quick work, breakthrough comes
2. Process, bumps us forward by daily walking with Jesus
In part two we will unpack these ways a little deeper. But just say a prayer with me now to Jesus if you have been challenged to give or receive forgiveness. First we must accept the forgiveness of God in our lives and know the relief it brings to us.
Lord Jesus. I ask you to come and heal my life where I have kept bitterness as a trophy I hand that to you today. I ask you to forgive me for such actions……. I thank you that you died to heal my life. I accept your work of forgiveness and receive it as a truth in my mind and heart today. Knowing that as far from the east to the west is how much you have wiped away my sins and no longer remember them. Help me now to forgive myself and be a blessing to those around me.
In Jesus name I pray. AMEN