My church has started something new this year on Wednesday nights. We take a scriptural characteristic such as forgiveness and learn about it for three weeks and then we live it on the fourth Wednesday doing various things that will help cement the characteristic in our minds. It’s been pretty cool, and I’ve learned a lot. The characteristic for this month, if you haven’t guessed it already, is forgiveness. I’m writing about it here today because God has been convicting me for the past few weeks.
First, the definition of forgiveness. Wikipedia says that “forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.”
It’s an easy thing to say, but a hard thing to do especially if you are the one who has been wronged. Christ has called us to this though, to forgive each other. It was the main reason He died on the cross for us, for our sins, so we could come back to relationship with Him. If we truly believe in what He did for us, we should be able to forgive others when they wrong us.
But, why believe me, your basic blogger? 🙂 Here are some examples from Scripture. Matthew 6:14-15 says, “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.”
Here’s one from I John. Verse 9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
And finally, one of my favorites, though I might be being a bit sarcastic about that :-), since it tells the number of times Jesus says we should forgive. From Matthew 18:21-22, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'”
There are many, many more, but I think I’ve gotten my point across. Now, where am I going with this? Well, like I said God has been convicting me. It’s not that I’ve done anything heinous or anything that’s a crime or anything that people would put into a “needing to ask forgiveness” category. Isn’t that the point though? All of us have caused offense and hurt at some point. It’s part of the definition of living in a fallen world. But, we have a hard time admitting it. We have a problem asking for forgiveness, and we have a hard time accepting forgiveness. Both of those require that we go deep down into our souls, into places that we don’t want to admit to God exist. God knows they exist, and God wants us to let Him in so we can do the things He asks of us.
Right now, neither of those are academic to me. I have real-life examples of both. When I was at church yesterday, someone came up to me and asked for my forgiveness. I was astounded! I could think of nothing they had done to offend me. But, then the person explained. She didn’t think she had done a good job in encouraging me in my walk with God. That my words on this blog and on my Facebook page had encouraged her, and she had not done a good enough job in encouraging me. I hugged her, told her it was ok, and we walked in different directions. I thought about what she had said during the service and realized I needed to speak with her one more time before I left. I had been wondering if my words had been encouraging anyone. Writing can be a lonely trade, and sometimes, you can’t really know if you have made an impact or not. I went back and told her thank you. God had given me a gift that day even though I was unaware I had needed it.
I went home with God continuing to convict me. He told me there were several people I needed to ask for forgiveness. I resisted at first. It’s not pleasant; in fact, it’s embarrassing to admit when you’ve done something wrong. It’s hard to ask for forgiveness and to share your heart when you don’t know how it will be received. God then brought the most convicting thought of all to my mind. Did I truly believe in Him? Did I truly believe in what Jesus had done on the cross for me? Of course, I did. I told God He was my everything. Do this, He told me, and it will bless you in ways you don’t even know yet.
So, I will be sending notes to several local friends this week asking for forgiveness. I don’t know if any of those people will read this blog post, but, if you do, please know that this is something God has convicted me about which makes it important for me to do.
If you have someone in your life, you either need to ask for forgiveness or accept forgiveness from, I pray that God gives you the courage to do it so you can continue to grow in what He wants to give you.
God’s blessings on all of you today!