When I am in pain all I can think about is the pain. All my attention focuses on the area that is hurting.
When Jesus was hanging on the cross, the pain throbbing in his heart, mind, nerves, and body must have been excruciating. And yet his focus was not on himself and his physical pain. He looked out from his position on the cross and said “Father forgive them for they know not what they have done.”
His whole focus was not on himself but on the world of man. In his most vulnerable moments when the physical pain totally encompassed his body, He thought of us. He asked his Father to forgive us. His soul and spirit cried out for us the perpetrators of His misery.
This takes my breath away.
When I have been hurt and have been the recipient of a bad word or action from someone, my reaction often is to reject them. To turn away from them. I doubt I would say ‘Father forgive them’! I would probably want to get away from them and have nothing to do with them for sometime.
Without forgiveness, the result of that encounter and its pain will then go into a compartment somewhere in our mind’s filing cabinet. There it will fester and grow. The relationship with the person who has dealt that blow will get worse and may even disintegrate. It might be the beginnings of a family fall out (if the words or actions were from a family member) and that could then spread over the years or even the generations.
Jesus’ forgiveness on the cross was not only for those who had nailed Him there, but for the generations to come.
This is an important point. Our forgiveness is not only for the person who has hurt us but also for the generations to come too. If our family see us not forgiving then they in turn will not understand the importance of forgiveness. The seeds from these actions will produce runners. And what do runners do, they multiply and infect the gardens of not only our hearts but the hearts of our children, their children and those yet to be born.
Have you ever had to overcome a garden full of voracious weeds that have taken root and embedded themselves so deeply that pulling them out only takes the tops off, and so returns another day to spoil and reinfect. Your hard work of clearing the ground is fruitless because the only way to get rid of the weeds is to dig the root out. So often we cannot be bothered to do the digging because it is too time consuming and also hard work. We might hire a rotivator to do the back breaking work instead. However, if we still continue to live an unforgiving life those weeds will come back because they have a propensity to find fertile ground to grow in. In other words an unforgiving heart, as that will be a fertile ground to bear weeds not fruit.
God set the standard for forgiveness. The Bible is one long story of forgiveness. From the sin of Adam to the present day, God is constantly forgiving us. Extending his arms to receive us, His prodigal sons and daughters. He gave us his most precious possession, His son, to show us the extent of His forgiveness and love.
Who are we then to deny forgiveness?
Who are we?
If we are Christians we are failing our Father in Heaven if we do not forgive, because forgiveness is love. We are not representing God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit. We may as well be those clashing cymbals as stated in 1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If God can forgive us, we must not deny this Grace to others. We cannot call ourselves followers of Christ (Christians) if we do not forgive. And that means any amount of acts against us, however small or large. It means everyday things as well as the monumental global occurrences.
The Father Heart of God weeps for us each time we do not forgive. His Heart is broken.
We break His heart when we do not forgive.
And our hearts become more and more like stones.
God promised us this in Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you, your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
If we truly want to be Christlike we must want a new heart and a new spirit. This cannot happen if we do not allow love to command our hearts. The gift of forgiveness will not grow in us unless our hearts are broken by God’s love.
God teaches us through everyday events, he gives us ample opportunities to learn forgiveness. Unfortunately so often we see them as personal attacks and not opportunities to experience God’s heart, His love.
Remember what he taught us in Matthew 14-15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
And again in Matthew 18:22 when Peter asked Him how many times we must forgive. Jesus answered, “I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Do we know who the God is that Micah talks of in 7:18-19?
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
We too must not be angry forever, but delight to show mercy just as our Father in Heaven does.
Forgiveness heals, it heals you and the person who sinned against you. If you pluck that weed out immediately it will not have time to take root.
Immediately you forgive pour Christ’s precious blood onto the person and into the situation so that it is purified.
Then we will know who our God is.
Don’t allow unforgiveness to become an idol in your life. There must be only one God in our lives. The God who forgave and opened the gates of Heaven to us. We must only worship Him.