We can never learn too much about forgiveness because we are offended each and every day in some manner. Whether it is on our way to and fro, in the store, or within our own household. Forgiveness can at times be very easy like in the instance of a small child saying “Wow your old!” you just laugh never really thinking of it again. Some other offences are much harder to get over, like a trust broken, or a friendship betrayed, these are not so easy to forgive and forget.
Although it is much more difficult to forgive a terrible offence, it is still demanded by God to do so. Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive transgressions.”
But that’s easier said than done!
If we look at Jesus our perfect example, we can see how He forgave the people who constantly offended Him in His Holiness.
The Bible says in John 2:24-25 “But Jesus on His part was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man for He Himself knew what was in man.”
Even though Jesus was offended over and over, His forgiveness advantage was that He knew what was in man, the sin nature of man.
The sin nature is very powerful. It is so powerful that Jesus is the only one whoever completely conquered it. It is so strong in us that when enticed, it is almost impossible to say no, as Romans 6 describes. Because our sin nature is so strong most people do not resist it and end up offending those around them.
Our advantage as Christians is that we can also know, or understand, what is in man. We can choose to think, when offended, it is the sin nature of that person making it easier to forgive, knowing that same sin nature is in us as well.
Knowing the sin nature is what causes people to offend me makes it not so hard to forgive, but to forget is a different story. Every time I see the person or hear their name, all those hurt feelings come back like a tidal wave and I get offended all over again.
But is that truly forgiveness?
Many years ago God showed me the true meaning of forgiveness. I was extremely hurt by someone, and after a few weeks I decided I would forgive, but instead of getting upset and hurt all over again when I saw the person, I said to myself, “You forgave, don’t think like that.”
A lot of our battles in life come to us in our mind. I could have chosen to keep replaying the offence in my mind, continuing to be hurt by it, but that’s not true forgiveness.
To forgive as God forgives we must also forget. Jeremiah 31:34 “…for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” And Hebrews 8:12 “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
Another part of forgiveness is to pray for the offender. Job, Jesus and Stephen all knew and understood the principle of forgiveness. Each one was able to forgive the moment they were offended and offered a prayer to God for them.
The true test of forgiveness is, can you pray for them?
Not to pray that God will get them for what they have done to you, but to pray that God blesses them and shows favor to them. You can measure your level of forgiveness by your willingness to pray for that person.
Why would I want to pray blessings on someone so hurtful?
To humble yourself and pray is to put into perspective the kind of life God desires for you taking away the anger not allowing it to cause bitterness in your heart.
Think about this…You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. If God ran to inflict punishment on everyone who hurts you, that person would experience wrath, not grace and it is the grace of God which leads to repentance.
In Revelation 16:8-21 we see that when people experience God’s wrath, they blaspheme God not repent. In Romans 2:1-4 we see that the kindness of God leads people to repentance, and leading people to repentance is the Christians goal.
Father, Help us to truly forgive everyone who offends us and thank you for the witness of Job Jesus and Stephen on how to truly forgive others. In the name of Jesus, amen