“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. This is hard. It is perhaps not so hard to forgive a single great injury. But to forgive the incessant provocations of daily life—to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son—how can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say… ‘forgive our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.’ We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what He says.”
-C.S. Lewis, On Forgiveness
Wow! That’s a tough paragraph to read, isn’t it? It’s even more difficult to put into practice. I had an incredible conversation this past week with a friend about this very thing: Forgiveness. The command to forgive and the choice to forgive sometimes seem miles apart. She shared this quote by C.S. Lewis with me, and it hit me like a ton of bricks…in a good way. Every day, we face injury, insult, hurt, offense…and the list can go on. People mistreat us, wrongfully accuse us, sinfully abuse us, and selfishly use us for their own gain. In it all, I think we have redefined what forgiveness should look like in our own lives. We’ve justified to some degree holding onto certain “unforgivenesses” because the offense is simply too great to forgive. Today, we are reminded of the God who forgives, and He calls us to do the same. Christ calls us to a higher standard – His standard.
I want to offer a few verses that touch on the subject of forgiveness and give each one of you some truth to chew on throughout the week. We can justify and excuse our behavior and lack of forgiveness all we want, but ultimately it boils down to what God’s Word has to say about it. I am joining you in this challenge this week. There are many hurts that I am tempted to carry with me each day, wounds that want to refuse forgiveness. I am praying for each of us, myself included, that as we refocus on the truth of God’s Word that our hearts will be transformed by it.
And I want to invite you all to join in on the conversation here. Sometimes when I write and post these daily blogs, I can’t help but feel that I’m sending these thoughts out to the wind. “Can anybody hear me out there?” is often the thought that races through my mind. If you’re reading, if you’re learning, if you’re joining me in the forgiveness challenge this week, will you leave a comment, sharing with us what the Lord is teaching you and how He’s encouraging you to forgive? Will you join in the conversation as we seek to encourage each other in this thing called life where we are trying to live like Jesus more each day? Know this: I am walking this road with you. I am struggling to forgive right alongside of you. And, I am committed to renewing my mind this week with what God’s Word has to say about forgiveness.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15 NIV
“Then Peter came up and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22 ESV
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25 NIV
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37 NIV
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 NIV