God forgave me of my sins so many times. If I listed them all it would surely fill a library!
I struggled with the continuous need to forgive someone in my life; a person who stands in need of deliverance. My intellect told me, “show mercy, and forgive because God has forgiven you.”
My heart, however, hurt. I was frustrated and angry. I prayed and prayed and had received prayer but no soon as I thought I’d conquered the animosity (a by-product of years of hurt) this person would turn around and do something else to antagonize me.
I was left with the question, “How does one forgive a repetitive offender who does not seek true forgiveness?” After praying, I read the bible. Having prayed a short prayer for illumination of His word, I found scriptures to encourage and enlighten and to strengthen me.
I. One must recognize sin
Psalm 51:1-4 A prayer of Repentance: A psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had sinned with Bathsheba.
To receive forgiveness from God we must first acknowledge our sins. Then we must repent and seek God’s forgiveness. One of the things that made me angry with this person is that when confronted with their wrong-doing, they would deny and reject responsibility. There was no repentance.
How does one forgive someone who is not sorry? Who, in fact, pretends ignorance of a blatant offense?
II. The acknowledgment of sin
Psalm 32:5 – I acknowledged my sin to you, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
David messed up big time and he knew it. People often speak of David’s downfall and his willingness to sin, but let’s face it, we all sin. Even the holiest of us fall short of God’s glory.
What stands out for me in David’s story is his repentance and subsequent deliverance from sin and forgiveness from God. Why did God forgive him? He had a broken and contrite heart. Psalm 51:16-17
We, being in our flesh, would crucify David; we would condemn him to death and torment. After all, he murdered a faithful, God-fearing man, just to cover the sin of sleeping with the man’s wife and getting her with child. And he did this with malice and forethought. According to man, David deserved death or at the least, life in prison. But God! God saw and honored David’s broken and contrite spirit, forgave him and then turned around and blessed him. Psalm 32:1-2, 11
After acknowledgment and repentance, forgiveness comes. God is simply an utterly amazing God.
III. God’s Forgiveness is Vast
God’s ability to not only forgive but to completely blot out our sins is indescribable. I look at Him and see just how far He is above me. And yet He’s living inside me.
Isaiah 54 is a study of God’s forgiveness and His love and devotion to us. His forgiveness is complete (even for the backslider). His forgiveness comes with restoration, love and joy. There are no remnants of shame.
Often when we say, “I forgive,” we attach conditions or amendments to it, i.e. “I’ll forgive this time but I won’t forget!” Isn’t it wonderful to know that God is not like us? He offers love in place of conditions.
I realize that if I am to be Like Jesus, then I must forgive like Jesus, with completeness. I must have the heart and compassion for others that He has for me.
IV. Letting Go of Anger
In the past, the anger, hurt and outrage I felt toward this person when they sinned against me stretched beyond the horizon of peace. Ephesians 4:26 (a) “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…”
But I know now that, holding onto anger creates bitterness and contempt. These emotions give Satan a foothold in our lives. It is better for us to forgive and free ourselves from anger than to give a place to the devil. Ephesians 4:27(b) “…and do not give the devil a foothold.”
Letting go of anger is a difficult task to take on alone. But as Sandy Smith, a sister in Christ, declares, “We never cry out to God and receive a returned check stamped “Insufficient Grace”.
V. Forgiveness Is Divine
We must remember that forgiveness is divine – Divine Forgiveness (It takes the Divine God in us to implant true forgiveness.). It is not an act that comes to us naturally. No good thing resides in our flesh and yet, it is good to know that, through the in-filling of the Holy Ghost, our divine God resides in us! It is through His spirit that forgiveness is made possible. It is not only possible for us to receive forgiveness but through Christ it is possible for us to impart forgiveness one to another! In fact God commands us to do so. Colossians 3:13
VI. Forgiveness is required
Matthew 6: 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.
VI. Our Path to Victory Is The Cross
We cannot forgive our brother or sister seventy times seven if we are carnally minded – allowing our flesh to dictate our actions always leads to bad results.
When we die to our flesh (through fasting, prayer and daily meditation on God’s word) these things become easier; the fruit of the spirit becomes more apparent and the presence of God in our lives is made more evident.
Since I began writing this entry, things have changed. The person who sins against me is the same, but God is changing me. This is where the change has to begin, inside of us!
When Jesus made His way to the cross, the mob didn’t suddenly come to their senses and acknowledge their sins. They jeered and mocked our Savior on His way to the cross, while He hung there dying on the cross and even after they pierced Him in His side. Yet, Jesus forgave them (and us – who were afar off) with His last breath. He didn’t wait until after He’d risen, ascended and baptized His followers with the Holy Ghost. He died for and forgave humanity before their repentance (and some never repented!). The same God who did that now resides in me. He makes it possible for me to do the impossible!
I pray continually for the person I’ve had to deal with. I won’t say that my victory was instantaneous or has even been made apparent but I know that I have the victory just the same.
I now know and understand that in this Christian walk God sometimes allow situations to take place in our lives to help us grow and to become more like Him. Indeed, to be like Christ I must forgive like Christ.
Please pray for my strength in the Lord and I will do the same for you beloved of God – Peace be multiplied to you and all you hold dear. God Bless.