Sometimes the stars align just right and you find yourself face to face with That Person.
The one you’ve told off several thousand times in your head.
The one whose name makes your blood pressure rise.
The one who hurt you and seems to be sailing through life with no remorse and no consequences.
There you are, staring into the eyes of your pain. What do you do?
Our immediate response is either fight or flight. There’s no in-between. You either start yelling and swinging, or you hoof it to your car and blow past a couple state lines. Anything to put as much distance between you and Them as possible.
God gives us a third option. Forgiveness. It’s as much for our well-being as it is for them. Usually more.
Forgiveness is freeing.
Corrie Ten Boom was a Christian in Holland during Nazi occupation. She was arrested for helping Jews and sent to three different concentration camps. The last one her sister died in. Years later she was speaking to a church and afterwards she found herself face to face with a guard from the Nazi camp, who as now a Christian. The pain and terror and sadness were vivid once more, brought crashing back by his presence. She knew what God expected, though. She numbly lifted her hand to shake his, and then felt…joy. Peace washed over her, and hate evaporated.
Forgiveness is supernatural.
Jesus hung on the cross and asked God to forgive the people who put him there. “Forgive them Father. They don’t know what they’re doing.” The kicker is, he forgave them WHILE he was still in agony and they stood cheering for his death. Not a natural reaction.
Forgiveness points to God.
I have witnessed friends faced with impossible situations. I have seen God give them the strength to not lash out. Not to repay evil for evil. They chose forgiveness, and in doing so pointed to a strength that was not their own. Inspiring is not a strong enough word. They are my heroes.
Forgiveness is good and from God. But how do we get there? How do we get to a place where we are able to forgive people who have really hurt us?
We have to look at things through God’s perspective. We have to hold fast to truth.
Our fight is not against flesh and blood. It is against evil.
There is a war between good and evil going on. Adding hate and animosity to sin won’t make anything better. It only drags you down. Forgiveness puts you in right standing with God, and shines His light into a dark situation.
You are a Child of God.
You are loved. You are whole. You’ve got a bright future ahead of you. You have also been forgiven. God freely forgave you for all the times you’ve sinned against him. He asks you to imitate his love by forgiving others.
That Person is loved by God.
Whether they know it or not, God desires to restore that person to Himself and give them a new way to live. Maybe they’re already be a Christian and have wandered so far from God they’re unrecognizable right now. By choosing compassion and forgiveness, you will be extending God’s grace to them. Through you, they will be able to see his love. Crazy, right?
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Forgiveness is not always easy, but it is always good. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to put yourself back in a bad situation. It just means you aren’t holding on to hate, anger, or vengeance. You give the situation to God so that you are free to live your life. He will deal with each one of us according to our own actions.
You were made for more. More than visceral reaction. You were made to shine, and when you forgive you do just that.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil….If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone….Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. -Romans 12