“Be kind and tenderhearted to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
Forgive others as Christ forgave you. That’s a pretty intimidating standard, especially when we know that people will wrong us – in both big and small ways. So, how exactly do we forgive, especially when facing cruel, unjust actions?
First of all, let’s take a look at what forgiveness is NOT:
- Forgiveness is NOT forgetting. The lie goes something like this, “If you’ve truly forgiven, then you’ll forget it happened.” Not true. Forgiveness is being able to remember how you’ve been wronged and choosing to forgive anyway.
- Forgiveness does NOT equal naiveté. In other words, if a business partner cheats you, then as a Christian you’re called to forgive him or her. You’re not called to then enter into another business agreement with them. The same goes for personal relationships. Forgiving does not mean continuing in relationship with that individual. Sometimes clear boundaries need to be set. Other times, it’s distance or walking away from that particular situation or individual. Don’t mistake forgiveness for naiveté.
- Forgiveness does NOT mean lack of consequences. Both the Old and New Testament teach clearly on the importance of adhering to God ordained earthly authorities of the day. This includes parents, teachers, supervisors and all others who administer law and order, handing out justice fairly and objectively. The point is that justice and consequences for our actions are to be carried out fairly and objectively, not in anger and vengeance. Ultimately, God will have the final judgement
We forgive because Jesus forgave us. Jesus understands pain, betrayal, injustice… He experienced all these things and more when He willingly paid the penalty for OUR sins through death on the cross. Why would He go through all this suffering? Because Jesus wanted us to experience the freedom of HIS forgiveness so that we could forgive others.
So, who are you struggling to forgive? Remember how you’ve been forgiven through Christ and ask God for the strength to forgive others. Walking the path of forgiveness isn’t easy, but it’s certainly worth it.