When it comes right down to it, I don’t really think I want to forgive people. If I am honest, deep down, truth be told, I want to hold onto the offense. Holding on to what others have done to me gives me all the weapons I need.
The word in the Bible for “forgive” means to release, to “leave off”. Forgiving means to let someone off from a debt they owe because they have wronged me.
But, in dark places, I want my pound of flesh. I don’t want to release anyone. There’s too much at stake.
If I can hold on to a debt for a wrong that has been done to me, it gives me a sense of power. It helps me justify my own self-centered behavior: “you did this, so I’m well within my rights to do this…”. It fuels my self-justification and allows me to injure the one who has injured me without remorse.
Holding on to a debt allows me to stay the same...day after day...year after year. A life deeply committed to never forgiving means I never have to face my anger. It means my relationships in every area of life stay broken and unhealed.
But broken relationships and a life that holds on to anger ultimately ruins us. That’s the bad news. We become oblivious to our own failures. We become set in our selfishness. We become adversarial even with people we love. Ultimately, bitterness takes root and a joyless, angry way of life becomes the norm rather than the exception.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is GOOD NEWS for EVERYDAY LIFE! We have been set free. We have been forgiven. We have been empowered by the Holy Spirit. We are new in Christ. We have all that we need in the love found in and through the good news of what Christ has done. The cross compels us to forgive, to release those who have harmed us and to be a champion for their best life!
The word of God tells us that the good news of Christ, the gospel, starts a revolution in our lives and releases power for extraordinary forgiveness that threatens to turn the world upside down.
Consider the radical impact of the good news, the gospel in everyday life:
27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.
30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that.
34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37 Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Don’t’ miss the beginning of our new series, “Good News for Everyday Life” as we consider how all that Christ has done on our behalf transforms us into radically loving and forgiving people.
Letting go of a debt when someone harms us? Choosing love and forgiveness? Now that’s power for EVERYDAY LIFE!