I recently listened to a message given by a Christian speaker, and she said that to be Christian is to be a forgiver. This statement has been on my heart and mind over the last few weeks. Extending forgiveness is distinctly Christian. The world holds grudges, retaliates, complains about unfair treatment, and plans revenge. As Christians, we are called to another level of living in which forgiveness is not merely recommended but required.
I have been on the receiving end of unjust treatment by a family member for years. Forgiving this person is not something I have the capability to do in human strength. However, God has granted the ability to offer forgiveness and continue to forgive this person. It does not necessarily get easier and is something I must talk to God about almost daily, and sometimes several times each day. When I become caught up in what this person has done, it consumes me and makes me an unpleasant person. My thought life used to be dominated by how I had been unjustly wronged. I was enslaved by bitterness, self-pity, and the desire for revenge. I am not immune to those feelings, but by God’s grace, I now have wisdom to handle my emotions in a healthier manner and view situations with an eternal perspective. I also remember how much God has forgiven me, which helps me extend forgiveness to others.
Forgiveness is also necessary in smaller, every day matters. When in relationships with people, even good relationships, there will be conflict and disagreements. I will do things to others requiring them to forgive me. In these instances, the mature choice is to own my wrong behavior. Also, I need to offer forgiveness to others to live in freedom and more effectively serve others. We are not as useful for God if our focus is on how we have been wronged. Failure to forgive harms me, leads to bitterness, and breaks the heart of God. I recently forgave a friend after carrying hurt and an internal cry for justice for several days. I felt a wave of peace as I firmly decided to forgive this person for something done inadvertently yet hurt me deeply. My relationships with this person and God are now on better terms as a result.
Forgiveness is a process and sometimes takes a long time, depending on the person or behavior. It is important to note that forgiveness is not justifying actions. Sometimes when I get discouraged in my Christian walk, God reminds me that the ability to forgive is evidence of his presence and work in my life. Forgiveness is possible only by the prompting, power, and enabling of the Holy Spirit.
Guest blogger: Anonymous