- Prayers For Coronavirus - March 31, 2020
- Easter Worship Songs - March 24, 2020
- 9 Unique Ways To Care For And Minister To Seniors In Your Church - March 20, 2020
Unless you are just one of the rare people who never struggle forgiveness is difficult and can sometimes feel impossible in certain situations.
Jesus is pretty clear in His teachings that forgiveness goes hand in hand with the Gospel. Actually, without forgiveness, the Gospel wouldn’t exist at all, because every single one of us needs grace and forgiveness from God.
Thankfully, God extends this forgiveness freely and abundantly.
We have a natural tendency to think God responds in the same way as we do when something goes wrong. We sometimes can think that God will react with emotional outbursts and anger when wrongdoing happens, but that’s just not the case with God. He doesn’t have the same struggles we do. In fact, nothing is difficult for God at all.
When Jesus paid it all, He paid it ALL. There was no debt left to pay. When you accepted Jesus as your Lord and received His payment for your sins, He covered you.
You didn’t take out a loan with Jesus that you need to repay with interest. That’s not how He extends His forgiveness.
Jesus is our model for how forgiveness works and how we should respond to others who have hurt us.
So as we explore further into this topic of how we can forgive and forget, let’s start off with some Biblical support on this topic:
First of all, there is actually a strong body of Biblical evidence to support the notion that God forgets our sins after forgiving us.
Romans 3:23-24 (NIV) states, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Psalm 103:10 (NIV) says, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”
Psalm 103 continues to state:
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:11-12 (NIV)
And in Isaiah 43:19 (NLT), it says, ” I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.”
God forgives those who follow Him, even though we can’t be rectified by works or our desire to do good.
“And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace” Romans 11:6 (NIV)
And God expects us to forgive because we have been forgiven:
Ephesians 4:32 (NLT) “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
In order to forgive and forget like God, we have to first respond to the command to forgive others. We can’t forget without forgiving.
It’s a common misconception that forgiveness is a feeling. But if that was true, no one would be saved.
God made the choice to redeem and restore us.
When Adam and Eve first disobeyed God and infected the world with sin, God could have responded very differently. Instead of punishment, He could have just ended humanity altogether. Instead, God chose a plan of redemption. This wasn’t an emotional reaction but rather a true response of grounded and pure love.
In addition, after the first humans sinned and fashioned themselves with plants for clothing, God provided them with animal skins for better garb (Genesis 3:21). Right from the beginning, God took steps of grace to provide the fallen people with the grace needed to succeed in returning to Him.
Furthermore, Christ chose to walk the road of suffering in obedience, not because of emotional feelings. If He relied solely on His feelings, He would have stayed here on Earth rather than choosing the cross.
Luke 22:42 NIV “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
I’m not sure Christ experienced wonderful feelings about forgiveness when He took up the cross and died innocently so that humanity, and all who would follow, could be rectified back to God.
Forgiveness isn’t a feeling. It’s an action.
In addition, when Jesus was being beaten and crucified, I’m not sure He felt the emotional equivalency of forgiveness in His heart when He said, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
Rather, Jesus deeply understood that people were enslaved to their limited viewpoint and their brokenness. But He didn’t hold it against them. Instead, He felt compassion for them while He was bleeding out and dying.
In this act of Jesus, we not only see that forgiveness is a choice and attitude (and not a feeling), but we also see another way forward.
The way to forgive and forget like God is to understand the nature of humanity.
Jesus understood this very well, just listen to His words:
But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people.No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart. (John 2:24-25 NLT)
Jesus knew that people are broken and deeply needed Him. Without God, people are without direction and confused. Actually, there a lot of people who know God and are working on following Him, but are still very misguided.
It’s because of the sin nature that our natural instincts in life are broken and usually wrong. It is only through God that we find the way to true life and wholeness.
So when people were persecuting, rejecting, and physically harming Jesus, He knew they didn’t know what they were doing. But Jesus didn’t take it personally but instead responded with compassion.
Again, as He was nailed to the cross and dying, Jesus said, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
The people at the time certainly thought they knew what they were doing. They believed they were crucifying a false prophet, that they were protecting their God of Moses, David, and Noah. They thought they were bringing honor to God by getting rid of this blasphemous man.
The people who persecuted Jesus thought they were justified in their actions. In much the same way, Paul himself believed he was doing right by persecuting the early church, but he wasn’t. (Galatians 1:14)
Whether people’s intentions are pure or evil, everyone struggles against enslavement to brokeness. Even Jesus’ closest companions, particularly Peter and Judas, chose the wrong paths. Ultimately Peter was redeemed at the end of John’s Gospel, but Judas never gave God the chance to restore Him.
Forgiveness is vastly tied up in brokenness.
And since God knows and sees everything, He understands the brokenness of humanity and made a way through Jesus’ innocent death to bring us back to Him.
So when we experience pain, we are also offered the opportunity to recognize, like Jesus, that people do not know what they are doing. Through this, we are able to extend grace even when the pain is real.
But we do this through God’s strength, not our own.
We are able to extend forgiveness by clinging on to God.
This is how we forgive and forget like God. We return over and over to God with our pain, disappointment, or hurt and ask Him to help us on the road of forgiveness. We tell Him that we don’t know how to push forward and forgive our enemy or our loved one who hurt us.
We cling to God and let His love guide us through the journey of forgiveness. For if we could do anything on our own, we wouldn’t have needed Jesus to come and rescue us, right?
We need God more than we realize, more than we practice.
Forgiveness is a freeing experience for your heart, but unforgiveness is where the Enemy wants you to be imprisoned.
The Enemy wants you to stay mad and not extend forgiveness.
Evil wants you to feel vindicated in your anger, justified in your hardheartedness, satisfied in not offering redemption. Because Evil understands that unforgiveness is a trap and wants to ensnare you. It wants to hold you in place so that you can’t move forward and you will continue to experience turmoil and pain.
Unforgiveness is a trap and you are its victim.
The person you’re ultimately hurting by not forgiving others is yourself. You are the one who is embroiled and stuck in a personal prison. The effects of unforgiveness hold us back in ways we often do not notice.
It creates a rift between us and the intimacy with God. While God never leaves us, it is we who distance ourselves by allowing our pain to grow by not choosing to work through forgiveness.
Things can easily supplant God in our hearts and unforgiveness is a fast-growing weed that needs to be immediately pulled from our lives.
Unforgiveness builds rotten Fruit in our lives. It creates fertile ground where bitterness, judgment, anxiety, obsession, fear, dishonesty, scheming, and control (just to name a few) take hold and grow.
It should be noted that forgiveness does not equate to being abused or in toxic harmful relationships if you are looking for more guidance in this area we have an excellent article on how to create healthy boundaries as a Christian. It’s a good read for anyone who may have a relationship in their lives that needs work.
How To Forgive and Forget Like God
The path towards forgiveness starts by simply acknowledging your hurt. Keep returning to God with your hurt – this is key in the process.
As you continually return to God and talk about your hurt, make the choice to choose forgiveness, even if it doesn’t feel good. We as followers of Christ should be motivated by love and respect to God, not by how we feel about certain commands. God directs us to forgive others, just like we have been forgiven by Him.
Slowly over time, God will begin to heal those painful places and move you into more freedom from those past hurts. Ask Him to help you to develop a heart as He does. Ask Him to help you extend grace, even to your enemies, like Jesus did on the cross.
While we are not God, He is making us more like Jesus the closer we walk with Him and the more intentional we are about choosing to follow what He asks of us. One day we all will be able to forget like God does when we are restored and renewed in heaven. But until then, we will walk in our shortcomings while allowing God to be the one who holds us up and carries us through both our trials and joys.
The journey with God is just that- a journey. Your destination is today. God calls you to this moment with Him here and now. Respond now to where He is calling you!
If you are looking to grow more forgiveness in your life, and become more like Jesus then our Forevergreen membership is perfect for you. Every month is a new theme and March 2020’s theme is forgiveness.
This month we have daily email devotions on growing a more forgiving heart, a digital monthly Christian planner, a workbook on moving from hurt to forgiveness, and two Bible studies on epic parables about forgiveness. In addition, there are tons of bonuses all rolled into this membership. Check it out here!