Displaying items by tag: forgiveness
Balance Part 4: A Life of Forgiveness
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.
Anger wells up when life seems unfair. Recently, a memory snaked its way back into my mind. That waitress was so rude, why didn’t management get notified. Instead I sat there and took it. Rehearsing the speech, I wish I gave I laid awake for hours. Friends that incident occurred years ago. Why did it slip in now? I don’t know but it was something I needed to get rid of.
After laying there for a while I heard this whisper “Why are you holding onto that offense?”
“Well, I don’t know.”
“What are you supposed to do?” The whisper continued.
“Forgive. I forgive that waitress for her insensitivity and the frustration she caused in me. Forgive me for hanging on to this memory like a dog with a bone. I’m so sorry Lord.”
Culturally acceptable, this emotion can cripple us. We allow the imagined argument to swirl around in our heads, feeling justified by the cause.
Ephesians 4:26-27 is a well-known verse among church goers. “And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” It is known but seems so hard to do. It is easy to point out in others but difficult to apply to ourselves. Sometimes we don’t even see the bitterness we are hanging onto.
Sweet old ladies welcome everyone, the mood of the room lightens when they are present. Without complaint emotions are faced and dealt with. Forgiveness can get easier with age but only if it’s regularly applied. Unforgiveness leads to bitterness which leads to an inhospitable environment.
There is a woman at my church who has survived a traumatic childhood. Her teenage years were spent in Germany during World War II. She lost a great deal. She came to the United States as a young woman and became a citizen. Now as an elderly member of our church she calls all of us family. She loves the Lord and lives in gratitude for the life He has given her. She is always ready with a hug and word of encouragement. She gives honest feedback but always delivers truth in love. Her presence invites others in as a strong example to those around her. She is a role model for me but scoffs at me when I tell her so.
When I am angry, I need to remember.
God is good
Vengeance belongs to Him.
The other person who made me angry is made in the image of God
The other person deserves God’s grace as much as I do.
Extending forgiveness benefits both of us.
Choose between a lighthearted or bitter future.
It seems easy yet human nature naturally embraces the trap of regurgitating past hurts. Return to the top of the list fight the urge to hold on lay it at the feet of Jesus. He reminds us that His burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30) Always ready for us, He call us, the weary, to Him.