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What Is Forgiveness?

14 Jul

What Is Forgiveness…

A few weeks ago I asked my Sunday school class to send me what their personal definition of forgiveness was. I told them I was going to use their responses as a format in a future post about what forgiveness is.

I didn’t get as many responses as I had hoped but the responses I did receive showed me that we, as Christians, have a big problem forgiving ourselves and others.

The definition of Forgiveness; The action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.

What is forgiveness? The entire Bible points to Jesus Christ and his divine mission to save us from our sins. The Apostle Peter summed it up like this:

We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen — by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. Acts 10:39-43

One of the class members wrote: “I’d say forgiveness is letting go of resentment, not clinging to the memory of a wrong done.” This is a very good example of forgiveness.

Another basically said he was too busy to respond and to please remove his name from my email list. He went on to accuse me of seeking a pat on the back for my efforts. I’m not quite sure where that came from. I originally took this as a slap in the face, then realized this is one of the problems we face on a daily basis. We tend to see problems in others that we ourselves have. We don’t take the time to consider how our actions and words affect others and we certainly aren’t readily going to admit we are wrong. That includes each and everyone of us at some point of our life.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20

One other response I received reflected my feeling upon returning from the war. Holding onto resentments and venting my anger about them with a hair like trigger. I could not find a way to forgive myself or those who I felt offended me. I remember those days well and also remember when a pastor told me that if I learn to forgive myself, then I will find it in my heart to forgive others. This was the key that changed my outlook on life.

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

So now we know what forgiveness is, why do we have so much trouble doing it? The answer just could be it is easier to see the faults of other than it is to admit we have some, if not all the same faults.

It’s easier to turn our backs than it is to offer a hand up. Its easier to look down on others than it is to look at them as equals. It’s easier because we, as Christians, choose to take the easy way rather than step up, set the example and shine our lights.

The time has come for each and everyone of us to wake up and see what we have done and how we have failed God. It takes love to reach out and help someone, but that love is returned many times more. It takes love to forgive our neighbors as God has forgiven us. There are two keys here: Love and humility. So what is the next step?

When I look at the divide and hate in our Country over the past 20 years or so, I wonder if it is a failure of the church or a failure of us as Christians. It could be a combination of both. I just know that if we are to survive we all have to change our outlook on life and each other.

Love and forgiveness go hand in hand! So when Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves, He also said forgive others for their transgressions as I forgave yours.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:12-14

Let us all go out and shine our lights to honor Him who gave His life for each and everyone of us.

Walk daily with God at your side!

Love always,

Ed

 

 

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