I believe forgiveness is about the heart. When Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34), He was looking at my heart not at the actions or the words. What was my heart really saying or doing?
God wants me to forgive. Jesus gave me vivid examples about forgiveness like the one as He stretched His arms out on the cross. He spoke about its importance and how much I am to forgive.
“Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Luke 6:37-38 (NIV)
Peter wanted to know how many times he had to forgive his brother! (Do you wonder if he meant Andrew?) Jesus essentially says, “A BUNCH!” (Matthew 18:21-22)
So – I am to forgive. But that act of obedience is not usually tied up in a neat bow, in a pretty box, that has an opening and a closing. Forgiveness usually involves someone with whom we have a relationship, whether it is spouse, parent, child, sibling, friend, fellow church member, or co-worker. We have a level (minimal or large) of trust with that person and the trust has been broken.
Sometimes that ‘brokenness’ can be identified by both parties and both want to reconcile and reconnect again. That’s a good thing. Both parties come back and speak words that hopefully clarify and offer repentance for poor choices or decisions or responses. Though the relationship can never return to what was – a new one can begin to grow and form.
Too often, in my experience, forgiveness, or the need for it, is identified by only one party. The other truly does not recognize a problem or chooses NOT to recognize a problem and so complete reconciliation is not possible…for now. However, healing is possible with God’s great help as He shows us how to move forward, taking ownership for our own mistakes, going to our knees to Him to ask forgiveness, and receiving His truth and light in the circumstance. Since God is the only one perfect enough to judge, it is with Him that we can find peace in all circumstances as He freely gives His all-sufficient grace to us. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Forgiveness is something to begin NOW; a road trip not to be put off by the million-and-one excuses that I can find. It is to be seen as one step at a time, directed by a Savior who knows my heart and knows my endurance. He moves me in perfect timing and shows me the blessings of staying on course. Jesus is ready and available for countless discussions; a teacher and confidant.
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)