Do We Know How to Forgive?
When I was in high school, I thought I was a very forgiving person. I didn't hold grudges or talk about others...but I had never really had someone hurt my heart. When that moment came, I discovered that forgiveness was not as easy as I thought it was. I told myself that I had forgiven, but in my heart the anger and hurt would constantly trickle its way back in until I found that I simply did not understand how to forgive. That was when I finally caught a glimpse of the hurt I myself had caused our Lord and how truly amazingly merciful God has been to me and to the world. I struggled to merely forgive one painful moment when God has forgiven billions of heart-wrenching offenses. This realization (and deeper Bible study) was what opened my eyes to who God is, who I am, and who I want to be.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
Who God Is:
God is love (1 John 4:8). This is a simple yet profound statement that encompasses an entire explanation of God's being: the reason for His actions, His commands, His sacrifices, and His promises. One of the numerous ways God proves that He is love is through the forgiveness He offers to all who will accept and return His love: forgiveness that neither I nor you deserve or can ever earn. (See Hebrews 4:16; 1 John1:9; and the entire history in the Bible that led to the death of God's own Son so that we could be forgiven.)
Who I Am:
God is love, and I am the forgiven. I am the one He loves. Why? Because God is love. I was a sinner, and He loved me and forgave me. He proved His love and continues to prove it over and over again through His forgiveness. Romans 5:8 - "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Who I Strive to Be:
God is love, and I strive to follow His example as His disciple. God loves me and forgives me when I hurt Him, and I (like all of you) have hurt Him numerous times through my lack of love and forgiveness. Therefore, I strive to follow Jesus' commands of love and forgiveness, for this is truly what makes us His disciples - if we love one another. Part of this love for one another is our heartfelt attitude of forgiveness. For Christ says that this loving forgiveness is what will show the world that we are His. Remember God offers forgiveness to us all, and "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."
Are we truly forgiving? Do we look down our noses at others who sin, rather than share God's loving word and forgiveness with them? Do we hold grudges against others? Do we talk about others as though we are better? Or do we remember that God offers forgiveness to us, just as we should offer forgiveness and love to others? Do we truly know how to forgive?