Forgiveness. Nothing can heal and even protect our heart from all wounds like forgiveness. In fact, nothing else ever will. And though forgiveness is vital to healthy spirituality (and our salvation) let’s not pretend that it is easy.
Forgiveness is probably one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. Where is the justice in just letting someone off the hook? To let them walk free after what they did to me? To forgive their debt? Where is the justice in that?
Well, one needs to look no further than the cross to find the answer. The justice for all wrongs and wounds was meted out and inflicted upon the LORD Jesus Christ as he was brutally tortured and nailed to a suspended wooden beam to suffocate in agony. His heart literally exploded from all the pressure and stress and strain of not only the physical torture he endured, but also of bearing the hellish torment of every sin ever committed. Because he loves us that much Jesus experienced the hell (the justice) that you deserved. He experienced the hell (the justice) that those who have wounded you deserve. He forgave us once for all at the cross and so, he asks us – No, he even requires – that we forgive those who have sinned against us.
Here is our latest song Forgive:
(adapted from a poem by Rosamond Herklots)
This song “Forgive” is about how forgiveness is such a vital element of the Lord’s Prayer:
“…forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” Luke 11:4 NLT
Do we think about the fact that we are asking God to be as forgiving to us as we are to others? Hmmm… that should make us stop and ask ourselves, ‘God, is there anyone I am not forgiving? Will you help me to learn to forgive everyone fully from my heart?’
Jesus was once asked by his disciples:
“Then who can be saved?” And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 NASB
I think about that as it relates to forgiveness as well. I would suggest that apart from a move of God and a profound act of grace from God on our behalf, it would be impossible to forgive. But with God…
I think about my friend Jon Stoffel. As they were out for a family outing, Jon, his wife, and his daughter Olivia were shot in a random act of violence by a distraught man. Jon and his daughter were killed and his wife survived. His last words to his wife in his parting moments were, “Forgive the shooter.”
I think about the families of the nine victims who were shot and killed by Dylann Roof in the South Carolina hate crime shooting who, by the grace of God, extended forgiveness to him. “This is how we deal with hate crimes”, they said. What the devil intended for evil God turned into good as the healing message of forgiveness went out across the world.
I think about Jesus last words to those who crucified him:
“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34 NLT
I think about Stephen, the first martyr, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit was able to say in his last moments:
“Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” Acts 7:60 NLT
I don’t pretend to suggest that forgiveness is ever easy. Our wounds may run very deep. But God’s love and grace can run deeper still and by His grace we can experience a “peace that passes all understanding” and extend that peace to others.
Who wouldn’t want that?
I have written many other blogs on Forgiveness. Here are a few of them:
- Luggage by Rob Bell (a talk on Forgiveness) (Included in this blog post is a Youtube talk I gave a while ago about forgiveness!)
- Forgiveness – The Power to Heal our Broken World
- Will God Forgive You For Anything?
- Tribute to DJ, Example of Forgiveness (a friend of mine who passed on who taught us all hw to forgive those who abuse us.)
- What I learned from Ant and Pig (Don’t give up on anyone!)
- Tullian Tchividjian, a man after God’s own heart (Grace filled pastor who now needs grace from the body of Christ after a failure)
- Redeemed, Song and Story (Let the redeemed of the Lord say so – this song is based on Psalm 107)
One of my favorite quotes about forgiveness:
‘Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.’ – Anne Lammot