He had some pretty hard sayings in His day, didn't He? Difficult, even radical commands that He asked His followers to obey. Commands that made many wince; commands that caused many to shake their heads in disbelief and rebellion, and to turn and walk away.
"Love your enemies. Bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you."
"Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it."
'If you love Me, obey My commandments.' (John 14:15, NLT)
One such command of Jesus' was the command to forgive. Indeed, Jesus had some radical things to say about forgiveness. Things like:
"But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too. ” ~ Mark 11:25
"If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins." ~Matthew 6:14-15
When Peter came to Jesus regarding how many times he was required to forgive someone who had sinned against him, he asked Jesus if he should forgive that person 7 times. The answer?
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!" ~ Matthew 18:21
Is the idea of offering forgiveness easy, or is it harsh or difficult for you?
Does having to forgive someone, whether the sin was against you personally or against someone else, make you:
- sick to your stomach?
- shake your head in disbelief and rebellion, and turn and walk away?
I know I have to say a resounding 'Yes' to most of the above. How do you forgive someone who has not only hurt you so deeply you feel tangible pain, but CONTINUES to hurt you over and over and over? Like on a daily basis. Oh, my dears -- how I have wrestled with this through the years, only to come up empty handed, bruised and exhausted!!
How do you forgive someone who has taken something....or someone....from you? How do you forgive someone who has destroyed your family, your childhood innocence, your marriage, your career, your hopes and dreams, your reputation, your very life? Or someone else's? Again, this has -- and continues to be -- a struggle for me. How about you?
Yes, I can tell you from experience, 'forgive' is certainly not the 'f' word that's come to my mind or from my lips right out of the gate over the years, after being abused, rejected, mocked, mistreated, lied to, gossiped about or hurt by others.
But it was for Jesus.
Father, forgive them......
More to come in my next post. I hope you'll join me for it.
'This is love, this is hate....we've got a choice to make
Oh -- Father, won't You forgive them?
They don't know what they've been doin' (oh no);
Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them
'Cause I feel like the one losing......' ~from Losing, by Tenth Avenue North