Blake Reynolds of One Church in Cadiz, Kentucky, shares his thoughts on forgiveness.
Ok, real talk; Most of us are terrible at forgiving people. Of course, we manage to put a smile on our faces while we often stand in the presence of the person we are super offended at, but yes the internal struggle is real.
Now don’t get all self-righteous on me, instead, put yourself under a microscope and examine if there is any unforgiveness in your heart so we can address it.
Let me be real honest; I still struggle in this area as well. Sometimes I forgive people because the Bible tells me to, but deep down I want to throat punch a whole bunch of individuals. Shoot, I’d like to throat punch large groups of people sometimes. Ok, I’m glad I got that out of the way. No seriously, I understand the struggle. I think the problem with forgiveness is we usually have to forgive people that are close to us or at least individuals who know better. Growing up in the church I always thought I was going to be forgiving people who were persecuting me for my faith or thieves, something crazy like that. Nope, this is much harder.
Some might be reading this, and already names of people are starting to surface. Can those people be forgiven for real? My short answer is yes, but I understand just this reply alone won’t help, so let’s dig deeper. The pain you feel is real. The betrayal you feel is real. The confusion you are experiencing is real. But the lie you are believing is not.
You are believing the lie that it’s your fault. You believe the lie that you are not good enough. If you are honest you believe the lie that you have to stay angry, bitter and on guard or it will happen again. This causes us to live in fear. Fear of the unknown and the fear of ever trusting again. We construct imaginary walls around our heart, and we don’t let anyone else in, while over time we force everyone else out. This separation is a long downhill slope, and over a long period of time, we find ourselves isolated and lonely.
What does it mean to forgive someone? Does it mean we allow them to say sorry in our presence and everything goes back to being the same? Well, we all know that just depends on the infraction, but that very seldom happens. There is only one person we could look to as an example of true forgiveness, Jesus. Now before you start the eye-rolls while thinking to yourself, “I’m not Jesus.” Begin to look at Jesus differently. He was more than just a baby that we see on Christmas cards. The Bible does say that He was fully God, but it also says that he was fully man. So allow yourself to relate to Him there.
Jesus says that we should forgive someone 70×7 times. Wow, he must have known that I was going to get hurt a lot. So let’s answer my previous question, “What does it mean to forgive?” the dictionary has this to say about forgiveness. To stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake. Ephesians 4:31-31 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Regardless of where you look for the definition just know this, it’s always going to address the way we feel. And this is why I think we “suck” at forgiving people. We aren’t getting rid of these feelings. We are allowing Satan to control our mind. I honestly believe that the reason we are angry and bitter and in constant internal rage is cause we want to be. We’ve gotten good at accepting apologies, but we are doing horribly at letting things go.
The only way we are going to be able to let these things go is if we let Jesus in. When is the last time you turned your hurt over to Jesus? At best we complain to Jesus about the way we feel, but we are leaving it up to that individual to fix the damage. NEWS FLASH! THEY CANT. It’s something that you are going to have to lay at the foot of the cross. The very same place where Jesus forgave you.
While Jesus was brutally murdered He uttered out the words, “Father forgive them for they know now what they do.” Jesus was remarkable in that He was able to set aside His feelings and forgive people. He was lied on, betrayed, mocked, Spat on, stabbed, whipped and ultimately murdered and He still found time to forgive. That very moment. He didn’t let time pass, He didn’t wait for an apology, and He didn’t wait for someone to be remorseful. He just did it. Forgiving someone says a lot more about you than it does about them.
Someone that can forgive quickly says “I’m choosing not to be the victim.” Some of you have had legitimate offenses happen to you and trust me; I sympathize with you. But we have to understand that we forgive because we were forgiven first. It was our sin that put Jesus on the cross. The bible says “That while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” I think we “suck” at forgiveness because we don’t understand the depths in which Christ forgave us. Again I’m not trying to make light of the real pain you might feel. I couldn’t imagine being raped, or having a drunk driver kill my child. I pray for people that have to endure that level of pain.
But your pain has to end; it will take you down a road that you never intended to be on. I’ve preached to and prayed for many people that would forgive only to wish they didn’t wait so long. I’ve also counseled men and women that wouldn’t forgive, and they stayed on the slippery slope of isolation and loneliness. I’ve seen these same people lose people in their life they cared for. IT’S NOT WORTH IT. When we forgive we are making a declaration that we are believers and that we’ve accepted Jesus. That He lives on the inside of us and it’s because of Him that we choose to forgive.
It’s time we stop believing the lies that the enemy keeps throwing at us. He wants you to remain a prisoner. He wants you to be miserable. He wants you to push away friends and loved ones. He wants you to deny the power of the cross. He wants you to believe that you will always feel like this. He wants you, but He knows he can’t have you, so as long as you stay like this, you are ineffective as a believer.
Jesus wants your whole heart. Stop giving it away to someone that may or may not say sorry. Stop giving it to someone that may or may not ever truly make it right. Stop giving it away to people that can’t fix the hurt they have caused. Give it to the One who can, Jesus. He is willing and ready to walk with you through this. He knows what to say and when to say it. Turn your heart and ears towards Him and allow Him to speak life into you.
All this means is that you choose to move forward feeling free. You don’t have to return to an abusive relationship, and you don’t have to be besties with those you can’t trust. Sometimes walking away from painful relationships is the best way to start that healing process. Choose not to “Suck” anymore at forgiving. It’s your walk with Christ. And yes often your forgiveness of others bring them to the realization that they’ve been in the wrong. It’s when we see what Jesus did for us we come to repentance. Romans 2:4 “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” So what do you say?
Let’s do forgiveness better because Jesus did it best.
This article is written by Blake Reynolds, who is a pastor of One Church in Cadiz, Kentucky you can connect with him at blakereynolds.org or follow him on Facebook here–> www.facebook.com/blakereynolds1986