“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
Laura Heinsch says
Yesterday, a guest pastor came to my church and preached on forgiveness from Matt. 6: 14-15. The message was very challenging, reminding me of the truth of Christ's forgiveness for me on the cross despite my sinfulness. Because of what Christ has done for me, I have no reason to hold bitterness and unforgiveness in me. I must forgive.
As if this isn't convicting enough, God took it a step further in my devotional time. In Hebrews 10, I was reading about Christ's superior sacrifice: He died once and for all the sins of those who follow Him. Not only did He do this amazing act, He now sits at the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:12). The ESV Study Bible commentary writes that this shows: "that the securing of full and final forgiveness of sins has been accomplished". Christ not only forgives me despite my sinfulness. He continually forgives and secures my final forgiveness at the right hand of God. Christ is in a constant stance of forgiveness towards me.
To imitate Christ, I must not only forgive but I must be ready to forgive those who will wrong me in the future. Often times I find myself on the defense, expecting the sinfulness of humanity to harm me, while I become bitter and have an episode of "Woe is me!". But, Christ's stance in heaven challenges this sinful attitude. Instead, my attitude is to imitate Christ: I should live in a constant stance of forgiveness toward others.
Michelle Keel says
Hi, I think that was truly a touching piece that you wrote. I think it is a lesson we can all learn from and try to live by. I hope that you are doing well. I sure miss you at work. I know that God is guiding your life in a better direction, but that does not keep me from missing you. Take care,
Wow! Talk about echoing a weekend long struggle! Your words hit home this morning. This is one of the hardest challenges a Christian will face. In a world focused on retribution we would rather hold onto our claims of truth while disregarding God’s word and ultimate truth. What a tremendous disservice we do to ourselves, day in and day out. Pride is so dangerous – in this way it will diminish God’s grace. Forgiveness is not easy; I struggle daily with the renewed conviction to forgive. How I wish my love could increase, so that I could decrease. Like the song says (and I should just get tattooed on my forehead) I want to “Let my life be the proof of your love” – God, help me practice what I know to be true. Cherie, Thank you again for your prayers and for continuing to share God’s word and truth for our lives!
PTL…Amazing!!! My prayer group just prayed about this just an hour ago. We really need to let go and forgive others as we know that God has forgiven us 70X7… I think about how many times we have fallen at the Lord’s feet and begged him to cover our shortcomings with his grace and he has. Let us pray for God’s help to forgive others in light of the unconditional love we have found in him.
I saw the heading of this post on the day I was in the book of Philemon! God made sure that this very small book, 2 chapters, got in the Bible. Why? Because as Christ followers our relationships must be full of forgiveness and acceptance. As I think about forgiveness, I think we have become so calloused that we don’t even realize that we need to forgive! We are so used to making sure we are getting what we want that when someone offends us, we don’t even consider the unforgiveness in our hearts! Cherie, God is leading you in your teaching – thank you for your sensitive heart and transparency. Much love xox
Reading this made me ask myself “have I REALLY forgiven when I have said I have?” I don’t know…..I do struggle with so much about forgiveness too. Like, OK I will choose not to harbor resentment to that person but I will never allow them to hurt me again…hmmm not absolutely positive that is true forgiveness. I am so grateful Christ chose to forgive me, I certainly don’t deserve it, never did. Will be grateful every day for grace! Thanks for your honesty!
Debbie Bradshaw says
Honey, I am out here indeed. I’ve learned something about forgiveness from a children’s book about the subject. An offense will continue to grow if not dealt with right away…it starts out small and continues to grow and fester…it turns into unforgiveness and ultimately the greatest monster of all : a root of bitterness. I’ve learned over the years to deal with offenses as soon as I recognize I have one. I choose to forgive and then I pray for the individual. Even if something happens over and over. It’s all a choice. God keeps my heart soft as he helps me walk in unconditional love and see others as He sees them. I’ve mentioned this before but a great teaching book on this subject is ” Bait Of Satan ” by John Bevere….Love you so much and looking forward to seeing you.