Forgiveness is NOT Optional

Is it just me, or does everyone else feel like he/she is constantly being bombarded by offense? Persistently being chased by aggravation? Always being assaulted by annoyance?

 

Aggravation is inevitable. Because God knows we need these things in our life. To learn patience. To practice kindness. To walk in love. To find joy and peace in the midst of all circumstances.

 

But most importantly? To extend forgiveness.

Forgiveness is NOT Optional

Because forgiveness requires a full dependence on God to change our heart and soften our emotions to someone who treated us unfairly. Who abused and hurt us. Who ignored us. Who belittled us. Who abandoned us. Who disappointed us (regularly).

 

No matter what happened, we are called to forgive. Commanded to forgive. Commissioned to forgive. Because God says forgiveness is not optional. It’s not a suggestion.

  • Matthew 6:14-15, Mark 11:25-26 – “14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
  • Matthew 18:21-22 – “21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
  • Luke 6:37-38 – “37 Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
  • Luke 7:44-47 – “44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
  • Luke 11:4: – “And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”

 

So it’s not optional. Just as we have been forgiven for every bad thought, bad decision, wrong emotion, and wrong judgment, so too are we supposed to forgive everyone who hurt us. Offended us. Wronged us. Because that’s what His Cross is all about. A love so big and so epic that it forgives everything. Colossians 2:13-14 says “… He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses … He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

 

So God says we have to forgive. No choice about it. But sometimes it just isn’t easy.

 

Sometimes forgiveness is a process. You can start by saying the words “I forgive you” every day and at every resurfacing of the memories. And you keep doing it. And one day you’ll find that pretty soon they have taken root and aren’t just words. You have truly forgiven.

 

And it’s SO important to forgive.

 

Because you do it for YOU. When you don’t forgive, you are only hurting yourself. You are keeping yourself in bondage to the pain. You are keeping yourself from moving forward. You are stealing the future and its joy from yourself.

 

Because forgiveness is freedom to live life to its fullest. It opens the doors to God’s opportunities, and it gives you the ability to walk through them freely and unencumbered. Because you aren’t weighed down by your pain or held back by the burdens of the past. You become a victor, filled with power, instead of a victim, fueled by pain.

 

Because forgiveness is healing. Forgiveness heals fully and finally the wounds from your past that you keep rubbing and picking. No more painful scars or itchy rashes. Just the evidence of His grace filling your empty spaces and hurting places and redeeming all your tears. So you are whole – body, mind, and emotions – and ready to follow Him. And then your scars become testimonies of His grace and His love that others can see and benefit from.

 

Because He wants His best in your life, and unforgiveness stops it from coming to you. It is so natural to want to hold onto and hoard our hurts. But it is so counterproductive to what God wants to do. It is so harmful to our spiritual life. It literally eats us up from the inside out. It keeps us off balance so we never let people get close to us. We even hold God off at a distance. We’re not quite right in our behavior and our reactions. And forgiveness will break every chain that keeps us from God.

 

Forgiveness needs to happen, whether there is an apology or not. Because forgiveness is about us being free of an unmanageable burden. Because forgiveness brings overflowing grace that is bigger than any abuse, bigger than any pain, bigger than any shame. Because forgiveness is necessary if we ever want to make progress and grow.

 

So decide to let go and move forward.

Let God be good, faithful, and true in your story.

Let God enhance your life with freedom and joy.

Rise above your trial and choose the better way.

 

We will all be defined by something. Let it be God and not unforgiveness. Let it be God and not your past. Let it be God and not your offense.

 

For what we let God define He will refine. For your good and His glory.

 

Let today be the day you choose forgiveness. Let today be the day you (start to) forgive. Let today be the day you (begin to) let go.

 

For when we open our hands from holding onto the hurt, our hearts immediately open to God and His goodness. And what we think will be a great effort to forgive will become effortless. Because His grace will enable you to forgive completely.

 

So let today be the day that you allow God to change your life for the better. You will never regret that decision!

 

Marie Fremin. 1/10, 1/16, 1/19, 1/23/16

 

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