2 Corinthians 2:10-11
“Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven, if there was anything to forgive, I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”
The devil has many tricks in his bag of deception, and unforgiveness is one of them. Constantly he reminds us of the many ways a person has wronged us. And how they should be made to feel guilt and shame. But by casting aside the lies of the enemy and choosing to forgive, we prevent bitterness from taking hold and festering in our spirits. Bitterness only builds a wall between our hearts and God, and gives Satan a foothold in our lives. And worst of all, it can cause us to exhibit behavior that might lead others away from God. In Hebrews 12:15 we are told, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it may be defiled.” As followers of Jesus we are to show the grace of God to all we meet. We are His ambassadors in the world. And our lives should be a testimony of the love, grace, and forgiveness of Jesus. One that it is a light to those who would receive it and a condemnation to those who would reject it.
“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.”
Admitting when we’re wrong is never easy. Pride and hurt often get in the way when it comes to confessing the truth to ourselves and God. But when we don’t, sin festers in our hearts leaving us filled with guilt; feeling weak, miserable and isolated from the Lord. That’s why confession and transparency with God are so very important. So talk to Him. Draw near to the Lord. Tell Him what you’ve done, and trust in Him to forgive and restore you. Don’t get discouraged. When you stumble, know that God is always faithful to forgive. He knows we are weak. As James MacDonald says, “God knew we would choose the wrong, so even before we chose the wrong, He chose the right. God’s love made a way out for us with His begotten son Jesus Christ.” By acknowledging our wrongdoings and sharing them with God and others we trust, we can experience the freedom and relief that come with unburdening our souls.
“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Our spiritual journey is an ongoing commitment to growth and change, so too is the act of forgiveness. Just like the limitless mercy of God who endlessly forgives us, our forgiveness for others should know no bounds. Because in God’s eyes, forgiveness isn’t a one time deal. But instead an ongoing commitment to show the same grace and mercy shown to us, and to have a heart like Jesus. Which for all of us should be our ultimate goal. And we can do it with God’s help. We can cultivate a spirit of forgiveness that transcends limits and seeks reconciliation even in the face of repeated offenses. This means letting go of grudges, extending second chances, and embracing a mindset of compassion and understanding. Forgiveness can be hard, but not impossible. And it does more for us than the one we are forgiving. Because it enables us to heal relationships, foster peace, and experience the transformative power of God’s love in our lives.
“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
C.S. Lewis once said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” Human beings can do truly depraved and horrible things to each other. Some atrocities are difficult to describe, or to think about, let alone forgiving someone who has done them. All the same, Jesus insists we understand how much God has forgiven us for. Because we have all sinned against God, and by comparison, our sin against Him is far more than any person can sin against another. But more than that, God knows the destruction that comes with unforgiveness. How it can hinder our relationship with the Lord and create emotional and spiritual burdens. That’s why He wants us living a life that practices humility and grace towards others. Because by embracing forgiveness, we can experience the freedom and peace that comes from aligning our lives with the teachings of Jesus.
When someone wrongs us and then genuinely apologizes, the Bible tells us to forgive them immediately. Hard enough. But then God goes one step further and calls us to not only forgive, but to forget. Offering the same complete forgiveness to others that He offers us each day. Because few things are more powerful and transformative than forgiveness. Especially God’s. When we genuinely repent and seek His forgiveness, the Lord offers it freely, and treats us as if our sins never happened. He doesn’t hold our past sins against us or use them as a basis for punishment. And He doesn’t want us to do that to others. God’s forgiveness is an act of divine love and grace, and it brings about reconciliation between us and Him. How thankful are we that out of His unending mercy, God chooses not to bring them up again to condemn us. Instead He grants us a fresh start and invites us into a restored relationship with Him.
“Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, Your justice like the great deep. You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.”
Each morning brings with it a fresh, clean slate in the eyes of God. Yet chances are at some point in the day we’ll sin, breaking His Law. But thankfully when we stand before the Lord in true sorrow and repentance, we can trust in His perfect justice. Unlike worldly judges who let their opinions and decisions be swayed, nothing can change the unwavering righteousness and forgiveness of the Lord. When others are unjust or unfair, we can trust that God never is. Just as the mountains stand firm and the deep sea is vast, His forgiveness knows no bounds. And He offers redemption and restoration to all who humbly seek His grace. In His unfathomable love, God saved us from the chains of sin, offering His own Son to pay the debt we owed. All to offer us eternal life and a renewed hope. So with thankful hearts may we always turn to the Lord knowing that in His forgiveness, are found healing, freedom, and the assurance of a life reconciled with Him.
“For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”
I don’t know about you, but I struggle with repentance. Oh I can apologize easy enough. And I do feel sorry for having sinned against others and God. But sadly, I’m a repeat offender. Because for me it’s easier to sin and ask for forgiveness, than to stop the sin in its tracks before happening. And that’s why I’m so thankful for God’s goodness. Because part of that goodness involves His forgiveness. A forgiveness I need second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day. And it’s through His forgiveness, which God demonstrates His abundant mercy, compassion, and grace. I have a long way to go, and am definitely a work in progress. But God knows that. And despite how I fail Him, He is always faithful. Faithful in His love, patience, and forgiveness. Are you struggling with shame and guilt? Go to God. Lay all your sins at His feet. Receive His forgiveness and restoration. And know that even though sin may have a temporary hold on us, Jesus has a greater hold. A hold no sin could ever break.
Have you ever been disappointed by Jesus? You’re probably saying to yourself right now, “What!? Of course not!” But if we’re being honest, wouldn’t the answer be yes? Because the truth is, Jesus doesn’t always meet our expectations. He doesn’t promise a life free from suffering, nor to give us what we want. But what He does promise is to be our shelter in the worst of storms, and to provide for our every need. How do you handle the disappointments life throws your way? Do you trust in Jesus, His infinite wisdom, and His love for you? Or like the crowds in Jerusalem do you reject Him, turning away in bitterness and anger? Philippians 4:19 reminds us, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Jesus Christ.” As followers of Jesus, we can have confidence that God knows best. And He knows what we need, when we need it. So trust in Him and His great love for you. And when you look back on life’s disappointments, don’t be surprised to find that they are in fact blessings that ended up being far greater than you could have ever expected!
“When Christ died He left a will in which He gave His soul to His Father, His body to Joseph of Arimathea, His clothes to the soldiers, and His mother to John. But to His disciples, who had left all to follow Him, He left not silver or gold, but something far better, His PEACE!” (Matthew Henry) In this life we will all face trauma, heartache, and pain. Yet as Christians no matter what, we can experience an unshakable inner tranquility. Because when we receive Jesus as our Savior, we also receive the peace of God. A peace that surpasses all human understanding. And one of overwhelming security, serenity, and clarity which goes beyond anything we can comprehend. God’s peace is an impenetrable shield for our hearts and minds. One the Lord gives to guard us against anxiety, fear, and negative thoughts. Are you longing for peace in your life? Through a relationship with Christ Jesus, we can find strength and stability in our inner being, that allows us to face life’s challenges with a sound mind and a steadfast heart.
Memorial Day is here. The unofficial start to summer. A three day weekend devoted to fun-in-the-sun, grilling, and get togethers. All of that is wonderful as long as we remember the true reason for the celebration. A day of remembrance for those who gave their lives for their God, their country, and their families. Sadly, until the return of Jesus there will always be battles to fight, sacrifices asked, and wars waged. And always a need for brave men and women to fight the enemy. Just like the soldiers on the battlefields, we too are soldiers for Christ. And no matter what obstacle we face or what Satan may throw our way, we will overcome by standing on the promises of God. For as Paul so beautifully reassures us in Romans 8:38, nothing can separate us from our Heavenly Father. I pray for you all a blessed day with family and friends. To those of you who have served, thank you. To those of you with loved ones who have served, thank you. And for those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom, thank you. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten.