Forgiving others can be a struggle, a struggle that Jesus understands and one we shouldn’t give up. Jesus wants what’s best for us. Because forgiveness leads to freedom in many aspects of life, including healing from emotional pain, His desire for all of us is that we should forgive.
When followers asked Jesus to name the most important commandment, He said:
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
Our ability to love God and people increases when we remember that Christ’s love for us is unconditional. God’s love fills our hearts and we find ourselves loving others with the same unconditional love.
Love is the principle thing, the virtue of virtues. All other virtues flow from love, including the ability and willingness to forgive the sins of others. (I Corinthians 13:13)
Forgiveness is a struggle when we focus on our ability to forgive. But if we focus on loving God, in time, we find ourselves eager to forgive, wanting to obey Ephesians 4:32:
“Be tender hearted and kind to one another, forgiving one another as Christ forgave you.”
This verse encourages us to empathize with our offenders, remembering that we also have offended, we have sinned, we have made mistakes. And we need forgiveness.
Is forgiveness on your agenda for 2014?
Making it Personal: Father, work in my heart this coming year and cause me to want to forgive those who have wounded me.
A Word of Caution
Some offences are of such a vile nature that the forgiver will need to exercise caution in relating to the offender. Forgiveness is possible in any circumstance but reconciliation is not always possible, particularly with an abusive or controlling person. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you should continue to be a victim or put yourself in harm’s way. The Lord only requires that we forgive. Reconciliation is a two-way street that depends on the choices of others. We can’t control another’s response to our willingness to forgive. We only need God’s approval not the approval of other people.
Rose McCormick Brandon’s book, One Good Word Makes all the Difference is available here.