The Focus Behind Real Forgiveness

Telescope and seascape in the distance

If you can’t see past a trespass, you’re looking at the wrong thing.

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Based Upon Matthew 18

There may be more people locked away in prison than any of us think.

What kind of life does one have who cherishes an unforgiving spirit? In some ways I feel hesitant to continue this thought, because I know so much is at stake. But, perhaps that is the very reason this issue must be discussed. Think of the worse thing anyone has ever done to you, or someone you love. Is it fixed in your mind? Now, ask yourself whether you have forgiven that person. I mean, have you forgiven the person who stole your identity and emptied your bank account? Have you forgiven the murderer who cut your child’s life short? Have you forgiven the woman who trifled with your heart, just to get ahead? Have you forgiven the man who violently ignored the fact that, “No!” means no? Have you forgiven your deadbeat dad? Have you forgiven that police officer who was supposed to protect and serve, but destroyed to self-serve? Have you forgiven your cheating, lying spouse? Have you forgiven the racist bigots who are ignorant enough to think they are better than you? I think you get the point. Oh, and notice I did not ask whether any of these people “deserve” to be forgiven.

I must admit that these are impossibly difficult questions. I must also admit that it is easy to hide behind a keyboard and type these high and possibly philosophical questions, unless the one writing has to contend with these issues too, which I do. The fact is that all who cherish an unforgiving spirit are imprisoned and have swallowed the key to the outside world. I am not going to suggest that forgiving people, especially those who seem calloused is easy, because it is not. It is impossible, unless of course, our God works a miracle in our souls.

The truth about forgiving people who have deeply wounded us is that we must not focus on them. We must consider the reality of our relationship to God. We must ask ourselves, and be honest about it, whether we have ever offended God. We could say that we have never murdered or raped anybody (unless we have). But when we recognize that any sin we have committed required the life of Jesus on the cross, things get surreal really quickly. How must God view a person whose sins caused the death of the spotless Lamb of God, when we choose not to forgive people as sinful as we are? It boggles the mind.

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14–15). Today can be the day we all are released from our prisons of unforgiveness. We may need godly counsel to get the healing process started, but the more we meditate upon the incredible gift of forgiveness Jesus purchased with His life, it becomes a little easier. Lord help us all. Amen.-

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