I don’t think I’m alone when it comes to drawing lines of forgiveness- places where I’ve made up my mind that I can forgive anything but that.
Forgiveness is such a hard thing.
Forgiveness says that it’s okay that you hurt me even if you didn’t apologize. Am I comfortable with that level of humility?
Maybe the better question is: who was has truly been offended by the sin— me or God? When I begin to look at all offenses and injuries as against God rather than against myself, then I can begin to trust Him to deal with it justly rather than assuming that responsibility.
There are times that I want to lash out at a stranger in traffic, and times I want to lash out at loved ones for hurting me. There have even been times when I wanted to lash out against the church for “failing” me in some way. If I’m really honest with myself, I want to lash out because in that moment, what I want matters more than anything and anyone else. “ Me” is greater than thee! But when I step back and choose to see God’s perspective, He reveals I’ve got it all wrong.
When Adam and Eve sinned, God forgave them and made a way for them to be redeemed. God forgave Abraham’s lies (Genesis 20) and Jacob’s betrayal (Genesis 32:24-32). He forgave Moses of murder (Exodus 2) and David of adultery (2 Samuel 11-12). God forgave prostitutes like Rahab (Joshua 6:22-25) and the woman at the well (John 4). God forgave dishonest businessmen like Zacchaeus (Luke 19) and Matthew (Matthew 9:9-13).
And God forgave me.
God has forgiven me for every lie and murderous word spoken, for every idol I have worshipped, and every act of spiritual adultery. There is no sin so great that God has not graciously forgiven ALL who turn to Him in faith. Who has ever needed me to forgive them of so much? I can think of no individual who has sinned against me as much as I have sinned against God.
The writer of Psalm 51:4 confesses to God, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.”
If I have been freely given so much undeserved forgiveness (Romans 6:23), who deserves my unforgiveness? So, I must reevaluate the lines I have drawn. Can I forgive others as I have been forgiven? Can I place the hurt and betrayal at the foot of the cross, right next to my own sin, and allow God to cleanse it by pouring out the blood of His only begotten Son?
Jesus died to forgive me all my sin (Colossians 2:13-14). I don’t have to die to forgive anyone’s sin. I just have to die to self. Instead of claiming my rights (to get even, to be angry, to seek justice), I can claim Jesus’ sacrifice. Jesus’ blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). That includes the sins we commit, as well as the sins committed against us. Because I have placed my faith in Jesus as my Savior and Lord, I can trust Him to cleanse every sin that touches my life no matter the heartbreak or anger it may have brought. He will deal with every sin in a way that is just and right! That frees me to forgive as He forgave me (Ephesians 4:32). Unforgiveness and bitterness are heavy burdens for us to carry (Ephesians 4:31). Jesus offers to carry them for us and allow us to experience rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-30).
We so often focus on losing weight physically and fail to prioritize the greater benefit of losing weight spiritually. Whether you need to lose 5 or 500 pounds, Jesus is willing and able to take the weight! He will carry the betrayal, the lie, the adultery, the abuse and the injustice.
Jesus personally experienced all this and so much more during his life.
Like no one else, He knows the heartbreak, anger, and division caused by sin. He experienced the separation caused by our sin, and He lovingly forgave. My enemy may not deserve my forgiveness, but then again, I did not deserve Jesus’ forgiveness and neither did you.