Forgiveness is a lifestyle. It just isn’t a thing we study or read about; it is the way we are to live.
As we continue to work toward balance in 2023, (Five Habits of a Balanced Life) we need to recognize the importance of forgiveness. Forgiving others is a common theme in our pursuit of Christlikeness, but do we live it? I find myself rushing through familiar Scripture without giving it much thought. I know these verses about forgiveness but how are they intertwined in my daily life.
Driving to the grocery store the other day, I found myself behind a garbage truck. The truck slowed and pulled to the side but not completely off the road. I stopped behind them as I couldn’t judge the speed of the oncoming traffic. The pickup behind me honked and I could feel their impatience. My overly cautious hesitation annoyed them. As I continued to drive, I found my thoughts drifting to the correction that the pickup truck driver obviously needed. Maybe I would follow them and give them a piece of my mind.
Then the words from my morning reading drifted into my mind. Mercy must overcome bitterness. Wow, how quickly my mind went to judgement instead of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a lifestyle and who knows why that driver impatiently honked. I forgave them and prayed that the Lord would be with them.
Forgiveness is an act of our will. We choose to forgive every time the incident comes to mind, we declare that forgiveness again. Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a choice, but it certainly wraps itself in emotions. Surrendering those feelings every time the offense comes to mind eventually brings us to a place of peace.
Forgiveness is God’s will and an act of my will. The more I know Jesus, the easier I can forgive, but it takes practice and intentionality. Jesus taught us to
- Forgive those who sin against us.
- Forgive so we will be forgiven.
- Forgive seventy times seven.
- Forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against.
- Forgive others and you will be forgiven.
Forgiveness does not excuse the actions of others; it releases the judgement and leaves the justice to God. I know it is not easy, but forgiveness is not a feeling, it is a decision. We choose it and it brings freedom. Luke 6:37 says “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven;”
As we enter into holy week, let us dwell on Jesus words on the cross.
“Then Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. ‘” (Luke 23:34).
Each of us chooses to live as He modeled and directed - a life of forgiveness.