We say that we “forgive” people, but do we? If so, what does that really look like? And, more specifically, what does it look like if we don’t forgive?
As I sat in church today and once again heard the story of the The Unforgiving Servant I was struck anew by some very powerful Biblical truths regarding “forgiveness.”
First of all, forgiveness is not denying the offense, the sin. To deny something would be to pretend that it didn’t happen, when in fact, it did. Sadly, we live in a sinful and dying world where bad things do happen to us and to those we love. For anyone to deny that would simply not be living in reality.
Forgiveness is also not reconciliation, the rebuilding of a relationship. To reconcile a relationship is to earn back that trust which has been lost. However, forgiveness is not earned; rather, it is granted. It is pardoning the unpardonable, cancelling their debt. — So, do we do that? Really?
Second, the life of a tree is in its roots. You can try to cut down a tree in an attempt to get rid of it. However, unless you remove those roots, the tree will continue to grow back. That is why it is such a hard and painful task trying to remove those roots. Yet, what a relief once that is accomplished!
This is also true when it comes to forgiveness. If we don’t forgive, the roots of bitterness, anger, anxiety, depression, etc. will grow…in us! These roots will grow deep into our hearts and suffocate the life right out of us. Therefore, the cost of unforgiveness [towards others] is actually further pain and torment for us.
In theory, if we don’t forgive the undeserving, we are the ones who will continue to live shackled lives, enslaved, and in bondage by the offense of another. The effects of the offense will continue to grow in us like a cancer spreading throughout our body, killing us.
We live in a world where there are many [we feel] who are undeserving of forgiveness. People have hurt us, offended us, violated us, taken from us, and have done the imaginable to us or to those whom we love. Therefore, we don’t forgive them. Yet, we need to remember that we too are undeserving of forgiveness.
Romans 3:23-26 (ESV) reminds us that, “23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
We need to remember to live our lives in light of God’s grace and forgiveness [towards us]. When we truly forgive, not only is the undeserving forgiven and set free, but WE are set free as well! The cancer is cured, those chains are broken and removed, and there is true freedom!
Maybe you feel that you simply cannot forgive someone. And, in reality, you cannot do it…on your own. But, God can. Here is an example of what that really looks like:
So, who do you need to forgive today? A family member? A friend? A boss? A rapist? A racist? A murderer? [Insert your offender]. The real question though, is will you forgive them, and find freedom today?
My thoughts, through my lens.
“17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” – Romans 12:17-18 (ESV)