What if I told you there is ONE THING that would…
- Transform you?
- Draw you closer to God?
- Lead you to experience His active presence in your life more?
- Improve your relationships?
- Proclaim the good news and love of Jesus in the world louder than anything else?
Would you want to know what that one thing is? Would you do it?
Jesus is clear on one thing He requires of His followers…that we LOVE others the way He first loved us.
But what about when we have been wronged? What about when feelings of destructive anger are being produced in us? What are we to do then?
Check out what Jesus has to say in Matthew 6:14-15:
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Jesus is NOT saying here that being “justified” is determined by if we choose to forgive others or not. What He IS saying, though, is that the quality of our relationship with God today is affected by if we choose to forgive or not today.
When others have wronged you in such a grievous way that destructive anger is being produced in you, Jesus requires His followers to get rid of it.
The one thing you must choose to do get rid of your anger is to FORGIVE.
Let’s be clear. Forgiveness is NOT…
- An emotion.
- Saying, “what you did was okay”, and so allowing them to walk all over you again.
- A one-time event where you say the words, “I forgive you”.
- Denying reality, acting like something didn’t happen, or ignoring how much you were hurt.
- Based on if they deserve it or want it.
- Saying you trust them at the same time and letting them do it over and over.
- Saying you have forgiven but harboring anger.
Forgiveness is a DECISION – that the DEBT that they owe you is cancelled.
Forgiveness says, “I am making decision for you not to owe me anymore. I am canceling your debt.” This is NOT easy because they really do owe you…they have a debt they can never pay back no matter how hard they try. We don’t forgive other people when they sin against us because they deserve it. They DON’T deserve it. We forgive because we are followers of Jesus.
Following Jesus means we’ve been forgiven. Forgiven people forgive.
We don’t forgive because they deserve it. We forgive because we have been forgiven. We let them off the hook, because God let us off the hook. We choose to forgive saying, “you don’t owe me anymore”, because at Calvary on the cross, God said “you don’t owe Me anymore.” We cancel their debt, because while on cross Jesus looked at us and declared “debt cancelled”!
Followers of Christ, the hard truth is that we have lost all excuse not to follow Jesus in this way when we entered a relationship with Him. The degree to which you understand the significance of Jesus forgiving you is the degree to which you are freed up to forgive and the degree to which you must forgive!
I know the real question is HOW…how do I practically forgive?
Here are 3 practical steps to forgive:
- IDENTIFY how their hurtful act affected you and what it took from you.
- INVITE Jesus in through prayer.
Pray this powerful question: “Jesus, how do I need to forgive the debt I identified?” He will speak. When He does and we respond…that is how freedom to forgive happens and healing from anger comes.
- DECLARE: If they are repentant, you have the freedom to declare to them “You stole my _____. I forgive you.”
This may or may not come. They may or may not come to you seeking forgiveness. It doesn’t matter. If you forgive, you will be set free and healed.
Forgiveness is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. It’s the hardest thing Jesus ever did. It cost Him, His life. This is exactly why forgiveness is so powerful! Forgiveness will…
- TRANSFORM you.
- DRAW you closer to God.
- LEAD you to experience His active presence in your life more.
- IMPROVE your relationships.
- PROCLAIM the good news and love of Jesus in the world louder than anything else.
When we choose to forgive, we are truly loving like Jesus first loved us.
- Have you received God's forgiveness through putting your faith in Jesus, by asking Him to be the Forgiver of your sins and Leader of your life?
- Who do you feel wronged by? Will you follow Jesus and forgive?