[e-Devotionals] 2010-01-12 - Forgiveness Devotional

Originally Published 2004-11-03

Luke 7:47 (NLT) "I tell you, her sins-and they are many-have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love."

Forgiveness, for me, is one of the most difficult commands to follow. I, like most people, want to seethe and wallow in the venom created by someone doing something wrong to me. A family member betrays us. A coworker stabs us in the back. A fellow student tells lies to others about us. A neighbor slanders us. On and on, the world attacks us, yet we "Christians" are told by Jesus to forgive others. Love our enemies, pray for them. How much more counterintuitive can Jesus get with us? Love those that hate me?

Psalm 94:1-2 (NLT) O Lord, the God to whom vengeance belongs, O God of vengeance, let your glorious justice be seen! Arise, O judge of the earth. Sentence the proud to the penalties they deserve.

Romans 12:19-21 (NLT) Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, "I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it," says the Lord. Instead, do what the Scriptures say: "If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink, and they will be ashamed of what they have done to you." Don't let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.

It helps me tremendously to understand the above passages. Forgiveness is what I do and all I do. The consequences of another person's wrong against me are up to the Lord. Vengeance is the Lord's, not mine, and not yours! Now don't equate forgiveness with weakness. Of course we will have to still have to hold some people accountable for their actions, but we can not play God and determine the consequences that the Lord will hand down for their actions. Isn't that a freeing fact of God's word?

I have probably never had the wrongs done to me that I am sure many of you have had in the past, but I have had my share of "biggies." With the first major wrong, it took me 11 years to forgive that person. The second time, it took two years and the last one, two days. As I grew in Christ and grew to understand this principle, forgiveness has become second nature to me. Do I still get hurt, angry and mad? Of course I do! But I don't let the emotions rule my life. I move on through the power of forgiving others quickly.

Try this daily. Let someone off the hook. Start with little wrong, a forgotten returned phone call, a missed appointment, and so forth. Give the person a "do over." Let them off the hook quickly. Respond with, "hey no problem, I forget things at times." Or, "Oh, I understand." These small acts of quick forgiveness lead to an easier time at being quicker to forgive others.

Am I best buddies with these three people that have wronged me in big ways? No, but I am cordial and friendly. Best of all, I am released from the hard heart and bondage that form from not forgiving others.

Father, thank you for your offer of forgiveness for our wrongdoings and sins. Help us to model Christ in all that we do, big or small and in-between. Make our hearts softer and more like Christ. Help us to be released from the bondage of an unforgiving heart, by understanding your plan for us to forgive - and help us to leave the consequences up to You. In Christ's name, Amen.

Questions or Comments?
David Massey