Reflections on Forgiveness

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”   Matthew 6:14 NIV

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”    Mark 11:25 NIV

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven you.”    Ephesians 4:29-32  RSV

I have been giving the subject of forgiveness a lot of thought this week, after hearing Rev. Small’s sermon this past Sunday (9/17).  By the time you read this a month will have passed… so circle back with me, if you would!  As our pastor has emphasized, Scripture is unequivocal when it comes to the call to forgive those who have hurt us.  But the “how” is a little less clear.  Some might say it’s easier to forgive one major grievance vs. repeated small offenses; others might say the reverse.  And whether or not the person who has hurt us is repentant feels really significant in one sense, and yet is immaterial to what we are called to do.

  May I share a few suggestions that have come to mind, based on personal experience and tidbits of my training?  This has been an interesting process, trying to give structure to my ideas!

  • Accept your feelings of hurt and anger, without nursing or “rehearsing” them. They’ll fade if you nurture a spirit of humility rather than self-righteous indignation.

  • Remember the humanity of the other person–  the “wounded child” that exists inside each of us, that is capable of lashing out.

  • Focus on Jesus, at your side and asking you, “Will you do it (forgive this child of God), for Me?”

  • Release the person to God, as encouraged by Lisa Bevere, minister and author:

“Oswald Chambers said, ‘Faith is the deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.’  Knowing and trusting that you are the child of a God who loves justice resolves the issue of forgiveness;  God is aware that you have been wronged! It is not your job to enforce forgiveness in others. In time, God deals with every unrepentant heart. “

Prayer: Heavenly Father,  Your Son taught his followers to pray that you would “forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us.”  Please help us to live this out in our everyday lives, and not just give “lip-service” to these timeless words.  We love you and praise you, Amen.

Carolyn Rex