Forgiveness

I have come to accept …as you probably have as well…that people are not perfect…and they will disappoint us. Certainly not shocking news…and usually those who may disappoint us are people we are very close to ….and for me that very well may be my wonderful husband Billy.

There are times that my husband will say things that may disappoint me…and yes even hurt my feelings. Ok, not so wonderful but here comes the wonderful part!

My husband can be very black and white and we often joke that he needs to sometimes find shades of gray! I think it’s the “coach” in him…But the one thing that I have always admired about him is that he is quick to ask for forgiveness…almost too quick!

Let me explain… When he hurts my feelings, he apologizes and asks for forgiveness immediately…and my thoughts? Well my feelings are hurt! I am still upset! I am not ready to accept his apology just yet and forgive him. I mean give me a moment here!

However, regardless, I am supposed to forgive him…even through my hurt feelings. Whether Billy is right in what he said and I was just emotional about it or whether he was wrong in what he said and I was still emotional about it…I must still forgive him.

And truthfully…I really need to forgive him even if he didn’t apologize or ask me to forgive him. It is one thing to forgive someone when they apologize for a wrong but what about when they don’t apologize?  Ouch! That one is a tough one I know!

Do you know the difference between giving an apology and asking for forgiveness? This is pretty interesting…

Apology is defined as … “a written or spoken expression of one’s regret, remorse, or sorrow for having insulted, failed, injured, or wronged another; a statement saying that you are sorry about something.”

Forgiveness is defined as… “granting pardon for or remission of an offense, debt, etc.; absolve; granting pardon to a person; ceasing to feel resentment against; stop feeling anger toward someone who has done something wrong.”

So giving an apology is basically telling someone you are sorry for a wrong while asking for forgiveness is asking someone to pardon a wrong and to no longer feel resentment or anger towards the one who wronged them.

Have you ever said that you have forgiven someone but you still harbored feelings of bitterness, resentment, or anger in your heart?

An apology is something written or spoken…forgiveness is something that takes place in your heart.

I am trying to teach my children the difference as well. When one wrongs another, instead of just apologizing and saying they are sorry, I want them to learn to ask for forgiveness. They may not fully understand this concept just yet but my hope is that forgiveness is slowly sown into their hearts as they continue to grow older and mature.

The Bible is very clear about forgiveness and Jesus isn’t messing around…

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15 NIV

I believe there are 3 important aspects about forgiveness…

1)      Accepting God’s Forgiveness

2)      Forgiving Others

3)      Asking for Forgiveness

1) Accepting God’s Forgiveness

When we truly understand and accept God’s forgiveness towards us, then we will better understand the other 2 aspects of forgiveness.

Have you ever felt guilty for something you have done and wondered how God could ever forgive you? Do you know that no sin is too big or too great for God to forgive?

Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from EVERY lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. Titus 2:14NASB

It is easy for us to have feelings of guilt and shame but God does not want us to feel that way…feelings of guilt are not from God!

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1NASB

We can have a clean slate with God! He is a loving, compassionate, and gracious God! He says that He will trample our sins under his feet and cast them into the ocean depths (Micah 7:19)…and that He removes our sin as far as the east is from the west and remembers them no more! (Psalm 103:10-13)

God wants us to come to Him, confess our wrong, and ask for forgiveness. He is a forgiving God! He sent His son Jesus to die on the cross for us…for you and for me…so we may be forgiven for our sins.

But one of the biggest challenges that I believe we face is …we don’t forgive ourselves. Why? If God… our almighty, powerful and sovereign God…can forgive us, than why can’t we forgive ourselves?

Check out this perspective…

When we can’t forgive ourselves then what we are really saying is that what Jesus did on the cross wasn’t good enough! The beatings, the torture, the blood that was shed…the death, burial, and resurrection…wasn’t good enough!

It wasn’t good enough? Really?

Of course it was! …Ladies we can be free of all guilt and shame… and the Lord will even heal our hurts/pains when we confess our sins and ask for the Lord’s forgiveness!!!

2) Forgiving Others

Forgiving others for the wrong they have done to you can be very difficult.  Wouldn’t you agree? …Many times this can involve those closest to you… a father or mother, family member, ex-husband, a child, coworker, etc.

Why?  Because especially as women we get our feelings hurt. We get emotional… And let’s not forget our pride…

We may say that we have forgiven someone but still hold against them what they did to us. We may say that we have forgiven someone but continue to remember and even remind them of the wrong they did.

It is one thing to forgive when someone apologizes for the wrong but what about when they don’t apologize?

No matter how many times someone has wronged us…whether they apologize or not…we are called as Christians to forgive them. Note: Forgiving that person doesn’t mean you are saying what they did was right.

Peter asks “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister when he sins against me?  I tell you not, seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21 NIV

God understands our pains and hurts! Our feelings of hurt are very valid. I am not saying that you shouldn’t be hurt when someone wrongs you, but what I am saying is that we have a choice…a choice to forgive…and through this forgiveness God will heal us too!

Forgiving others is…

not about the other person…

not about accepting or justifying what they did to you…

not saying what they did to you was ok…

not dependent upon their apology or lack thereof.

Forgiving others is…about you.

When we forgive others regardless of what they have done to us or how they have hurt us, it gives us freedom and releases us of carrying a burden we don’t need to carry.

Do not let what happened in the past keep you there and cause you to be hurt as you play it over and over in your mind. Because that person has probably moved on and it’s time for you to also! Let it go and release it to God. He is a just God!

3) Asking for Forgiveness

Asking for forgiveness is certainly not easy especially if our feelings have been hurt. The reality though is that some of us may be prideful or just flat out stubborn. (Oh I know that’s me!)We want to wait for the other person to approach us first.

Asking for forgiveness can be difficult because we don’t know how the other person will respond or if they will accept your apology or forgive you. It doesn’t matter! You are in doing what God is asking you to do!

Forgiveness begins with humbleness…Whether it’s humbling ourselves before another person or humbling ourselves before God. (2 Chronicles 7:14) We need to take responsibility and do our part.

We can ask others to forgive us when we have wronged them because that is what God wants us to do.

We can come to God with confidence because he is a gracious God!

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16 NIV

Have you forgiven yourself for a wrong you have done? Is there someone you need to forgive today? Who do you need to ask forgiveness from today? Trust me I know it isn’t easy but healing begins when we can accept and ask for forgiveness.

What are you waiting for?

Reflection Points:

1)      Have you ever felt guilty for something you have done and wondered how God could ever forgive you? Do have a hard time accepting God’s forgiveness? Why?

2)      Do you have a hard time forgiving others who have wronged and hurt you deeply?

3)      Is there someone you need to forgive right now? What is holding you back?

4)      Do you have a hard time asking for forgiveness when you have wronged or hurt someone? Do your feelings or pride get in the way of asking for forgiveness?

Action Points:

1)      If you have a hard time accepting God’s forgiveness or face feelings of guilt and shame, it is important to understand that we serve a forgiving and gracious God who doesn’t want us to feel guilty or shameful. Confess your sins to God and pray for the Lord to help you and remove these feelings. Remind yourself of these scriptures.

2)      If you experience bitterness, resentment, and anger in your heart…pray and ask the Lord to search your heart and show you if there is anyone that you still need to forgive and release to Him. Yes…feelings of hurt are valid when someone has hurt you but God is our ultimate healer and He will heal the brokenhearted! (Psalm 147:3)

3)      If you have a difficult time asking for forgiveness…pray that the Lord would show you why and remove those feelings that hinder you…whether it is fear, hurt, or pride.

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