November 5, 2013
Living in Forgiveness Gear
Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ (Ephesians 4:32, NCV).
Friend to Friend
A little boy went to see the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. When he arrived, he pointed up at the monument and announced to the guard on duty, “I want to buy it.” The guard asked, “How much do you have?”
The boy reached into his pocket and pulled out a quarter. The guard said, “That is not enough.” The little boy replied, “I thought that you would say that,” and pulled out nine more cents.
The guard looked down at the small boy and said, “You need to understand three things. First, thirty-four cents is not enough. Second, the Washington Monument has never been, nor will it ever be for sale. Third, if you are an American citizen, then the Washington Monument already belongs to you.”
We need to understand three things about forgiveness. First, we can never be good enough or do enough to purchase it. Second, forgiveness is not for sale, nor can we earn it. Third, if we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, then all of the forgiveness we will ever need already belongs to us. But we must choose to experience that forgiveness by accepting it as a free gift of God.
Our pride is often the biggest obstacle to experiencing forgiveness. It is hard to admit that we are sinners in need of a Savior. We like being in control of our lives … until that control lands us in some ditch or pit, and we need saving. In desperation, we lay down our pride and cry out to God … and He hears us.
Psalm 77:1 (NCV) “I cry out to God; I call to God, and He will hear me.”
God does not respond to our cries for help with condemnation and guilt. That’s the standard operating procedure of Satan. God offers unconditional love and eternal forgiveness.
Our pride is often the biggest obstacle to forgiving others. True forgiveness always requires sacrifice on our part – a truth that may often seem unfair in human terms. After all, we are the ones who have been hurt. Why should we have to sacrifice anything? Shouldn’t the people who hurt us be the ones who have to make the first move and offer the biggest sacrifice? True forgiveness – God’s forgiveness – defies human logic and cannot be explained in human terms. Human forgiveness is easier but a shallow substitute and cheap imitation for the amazing power of God’s forgiveness.
We need to be willing to take the first step in the process of forgiveness. Jesus was. Romans 5:8 tells us that “God shows His great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still sinners” (ncv).
He did not wait until we shaped up.
He did not wait until we cleaned up our act.
He did not even wait until we asked for forgiveness or even knew we needed to be forgiven.
Jesus stepped out of heaven onto a cross, purchasing true forgiveness for us. He died for people who do not deserve forgiveness, people who refuse to ask for forgiveness, people who ignore their own faults, people who sit in judgment of others, people who insist on others taking the first step.
We need to love and forgive in the same way – in “forgiveness gear.”
Matthew 5:23 (NLT) “If you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”
God is very serious about forgiveness. He wants us to understand that it doesn’t matter how much we do or don’t do. If we have not forgiven someone, if we know that someone has not forgiven us, we should drop everything, put life on hold, and make things right.
If we want to experience the power of forgiveness, we must be willing to nail our pride to the cross, experience the love and forgiveness of God, and choose to forgive.
Father, I come to You today, asking first for Your forgiveness for the sin in my life. I choose to turn from that sin and obey you. Thank You for your grace and mercy. Give me the strength and power to extend that same mercy and grace to those in my life who have hurt me.
In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
What hurt or pain are your holding in your heart and life? Realize it is holding you prisoner and make the choice to let it go today. Forgive the person who hurt you. Forgiveness is a choice that leads to a step of obedience. Forgiveness is not an emotion or feeling. If you make the choice to forgive, God will supply the forgiveness.
Let’s go a little deeper. Read the whole story of Hosea and Gomer found in the book of Hosea. First put yourself in the place of Gomer. How do you think she reacted to Hosea’s decision to forgive her and bring her home? Then put yourself in the place of Hosea. Think about the thoughts and feelings running through Hosea’s heart and mind. Record your thoughts and insights in your journal.
What one person do you need to forgive right now? Pray for that person. Ask God to let you see them through His eyes and make the deliberate choice to forgive them.
More from the Girlfriends
Need help? Get Mary’s MP3, The Power of Forgiveness for practical ways to practice true forgiveness in your life. Check out Mary’s weekly online Bible study, Light for the Journey, for practical ways to tap into the power of God’s Word. Enroll now and have access to all of the 2013 lessons. Be sure to connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.
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Originally published Tuesday, 05 November 2013.