Christians: “The Most…” – Part 3
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.”1
Last week we saw the first two areas where the Christian should strive to excel in. Thursday, we learned about being the most generous, Friday we learned about being the most understanding/compassionate, and today we will see how we can be the most forgiving.
Forgiveness means different things to different people. We may think that we must only forgive when asked for forgiveness or if we believe the person deserves forgiveness. Perhaps we have a list of “unforgiveable sins” where we justify ourselves for choosing not to forgive someone who has committed one of the listed offenses. Regardless of what we may have been taught or what we have heard, the Bible is very clear when it comes to forgiving others.
In thinking about forgiveness, the movie The Shack comes to mind. In this movie, a father’s young daughter is killed by a serial killer. Seeking revenge on the killer, this father goes to an old cabin where his daughter’s dress had been found. He arrives only to find a cold, desolate, and empty cabin. Overcome with frustration and rage, he suddenly encounters a trio of strangers who gradually reveal their identities to him. The three strangers represent God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, whose purpose is to help the father better understand his life as seen from a broader context. This realization helps free him from the inclination of passing judgement on himself as well as those around him. It is from this point that he can continue a slow journey to find healing for himself, as well as forgiveness for both himself and those who have harmed his loved ones. Finally, able to move beyond his grief, his faith is restored, and he returns to his family where he can help them in the healing process as well.
While this movie is not necessarily based on a true story, there are a few things that I am reminded of every time I watch it. First, when grief or pain touches us or our loved ones, it is easy to want revenge. However, the Bible reminds us, “Don’t say, ‘I will get even for this wrong.’ Wait for the Lord to handle the matter.”2 As difficult as it is to step back and let God do justice His way, we must trust that He will handle the situation even better than we can. Secondly, I am reminded how God meets us where we are and presents himself to us in ways that we will be more open to receiving Him. Third, I am reminded of God’s great love for us as he patiently walks with us through the healing process. Psalm 91:2-4 reminds us, “This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” Whatever the situation, we can trust God… our place of refuge and safety.
We have opportunities to forgive daily, but it is something we must be very intentional about. Our humanness does not want to forgive, but we can reflect Christ to others in the way we forgive. We must also be very aware of the times when we are the offenders and therefore need to ask forgiveness. I want to be clear about something as well… just because we forgive someone, it does not mean that we need to keep submitting ourselves to abusive relationships, bullying, or any other type of behavior that is harmful to us in any way. By forgiving those who hurt us, we free ourselves to experience what God has in store for us, but this does not mean that we cannot walk away from harmful or dangerous situations. At times this will be a necessary action so that God can deal with the offender how He deems best. May God give us wisdom to know the right course of action in every situation we face, and may we be ready and willing to forgive where needed, just as we were forgiven through the blood of Jesus.
Suggested prayer: “Dear God, thank you for the numerous examples you gave of forgiving others throughout your Word. Even when you were being tortured and ultimately crucified, you still prayed ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’. I could never deserve or earn your forgiveness, and still you give it so freely. I pray that you would give me the strength and courage to forgive those who hurt me, and may I always be willing to ask forgiveness from those who I have hurt. I want to bring glory to you in all I say and do. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
Luke 6:37 (NLT).
Proverbs 20:22 (NLT).
All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.