The new you… forgiving the unforgivable
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt. 6:14-15)
This past Sunday, our Pastor reminded us of one more prominent barrier that prevents us from walking in the fullness of what Jesus says we can be. And it’s the one that so many people find the most difficult…
It is the barrier of unforgiveness.
It has been said that to err is human… but to forgive is divine. In a sense, this is so right. Nothing really echoes the Heart of God as much as when we forgive someone. I’m pretty sure that is why Jesus warned us of just how vital it really is. Jesus is saying that our relationship with God depends upon it!
Like regret, unforgiveness is like a dark cloud that hovers over us – no matter how we try to escape it. Though we try and ignore it… or bury it… or pretend it is not there… unforgiveness refuses to be ignored, buried, or imagined out of existence. We may not even be aware of it’s presence, but it finds ways to abruptly bubble to the surface (in our bursts of anger, in lashing out at loved ones, in our joyless days…)
The problem we have with forgiveness is that we are dealing with a real issue in a way that seems unreal. Someone has legitimately injured us (through words or actions) and it seems like we are being asked just to “let them off the hook.” It seems that, in forgiving them, we are allowing them to go unpunished. That seems so blatantly unfair. The guilty should always get what they deserve for their misdeeds!
And this is where we have to remember HOW God forgave us. We were all SO guilty in our sin and rebellion – but His response, when we humbly sought His grace, was to immediately forgive us. The Bible says that, in the very moment of our forgiveness, He “removes our sin as far as the east is from the west” (that is: in a straight, infinite line! Psalm 103:11-12) and will “never again remember (our) sins.”
This is the whole point of being a Christian (why we are forgiven in the first place): God is calling us to BE a visible representation of His invisible Person. He makes us new, so we can leave all the old stuff behind and live a new kind of life – a life that constantly emulates Jesus (Whose Heart was ultimately revealed, on that cross, by His cries of: “Father, forgive them…”)
Here is the truth… again: every horrible thing that was ever done to you was done to the old you. And God’s provision for us is the FACT that the old you is dead! A new person resides in your physical body now. And that new person has been “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph. 4:24)
As Christians, we have traded all that we were, for all that He is. And when we forgive, we are demonstrating what that new kind of life really means!
Prayer focus: God, reveal to me… people with whom I may still harbor some resentment or bitterness – and give me the courage to truly forgive them!