walk in the word
Forgiveness, Sin / Suffering / Satan
There isn’t one of us who hasn’t felt the sting of another’s sin.
Husbands cheat on their wives. Children rebel against their parents. Parents abuse their children. Pastors injure their church members. Bosses mistreat their employees. Teachers hurt their students. Friends betray or say hurtful things—the list goes on and on. Even as you read this, some hurt you thought long forgotten suddenly rushed back to your mind. And you felt the hurt all over again.
There’s just one word I have for you today that can bring healing to that hurt.
Forgiving someone is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. But without forgiveness, your wounds would never heal. It’s much, much easier to refuse to forgive and instead to nurture your pain. People do it all the time. Imagine the unhealed wounds just among those who live within a mile of your house—probably millions of offenses. Now, bring it home. Think about how much forgiveness is needed in your house and mine. Millions of opportunities, I’m sure.
Forgiveness is everywhere in the life of Christ. Do you remember what He said on the cross? As Jesus hung there dying, paying the penalty for our sins, He prayed, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). You can’t spend ten minutes in the gospels without concluding that Jesus is fired up about forgiveness! He knows what a struggle it is for us. He also knows what unforgiveness does to the human heart.
Remember how He taught his disciples to pray? “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). He then explained that “if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14). Jesus also said, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:25). Wow! That means if we are praying with an unforgiving spirit, God says, “What? I can’t hear you. Forgive those people first, then come and bring your requests before Me.” Scary, huh?
Peter once asked, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (Matthew 18:21). Peter was willing to forgive to a point, but Jesus countered with: “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven” (v. 22). When Jesus said this, He was not suggesting a hand-held “forgiveness calculator.” What He did mean was that forgiveness is limitless— we must forgive every time,all the time! It’s not possible for us to ever name an acceptable reason for unforgiveness.
People use a variety of excuses to avoid their biblical responsibility to forgive. None of them holds up to Jesus’ standard for forgiveness.
Do you cherish hurts and pain in your life that have no place in the heart of a follower of Jesus Christ? If so, pray from your heart, “Lord, who do I need to forgive? Please bring to mind their faces and names.” As the Holy Spirit brings them to mind, pray, “Lord, I forgive him. I forgive her. You have forgiven me so much I choose to forgive them.” Continue until there is no one left to forgive.
Are you thinking, “I’ve tried to do that . . . but I can’t. I don’t have the ability to forgive them.” You know—you’re absolutely right, you don’t. In the flesh, you are powerless to forgive that person who has hurt you but God has given you His Spirit to strengthen and equip you to obey His Word. He would never ask you to do what you couldn’t do—but you must do it in His strength. He waits for you to call on Him for help. He wants you to experience the freedom that only forgiveness can bring. “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
You know that person you thought of back at the beginning of this devotional? Ask God to help you forgive them today. You’ll be so glad you did.
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