That Forgiveness Thing…or Walking in Mercy

Waves of Mercy…Waves of Grace…

As a follow up to my recent article on forgiveness…I wanted to throw out a few more reflections. This has been a challenging area for me…for a multitude of reasons. God is definitely working on my heart…and for that I give thanks.

When you hold on to unforgiveness, anger, bitterness and resentment…your hands are full and unable to accept or receive something good or new that God wants to give you. Until you are willing to lay it down…and give it over to God…you will be unable to receive goodness and mercy from your heavenly Father.

When I forgive someone for a hurt, it means I’m giving up my right to get even or take action against someone for a wrong suffered. It also means I’m trusting God. I’m trusting that he knows best. He knows the persons involved, motives and the reason something happened. If God finds it necessary to bring punishment, he will, in the appropriate and perfect time. However…he may also choose to demonstrate mercy…even to one who is seemingly unworthy. All who are saved…can say a big Amen and Thank You!

Forgiveness means trusting that God will redeem bad circumstances or wrongs done to us. Romans 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

God alone is able to bring good out of bad. It may not be immediate…it may not be in the form that we are expecting. It will likely be from a different person than the one who harmed us. But He will give us beauty for ashes.

Isaiah 61:3
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

Forgiveness for a wrong suffered also demonstrates confidence that person who hurt us will be punished for what they did. At the appropriate time…and to the measure that God deems just…they will be punished. Sometimes it seems as if people get away with wrong doing and are not punished. But we can rest assured that our God is just and will bring justice on our behalf. They may even get away with sin and evil in this life…but a price will be paid…even if it’s the eternal life to come.

Remember that God’s mercy demonstrated towards sinners is a tool that he uses to draw people to himself. If a person rejects God, does not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and the sacrifice for their sins…they will be without excuse.

Sometimes it’s tempting to remain in unforgiveness until such time as the person who hurt you acknowledges it and apologizes. Then of course you can be magnanimous and forgive them. A few things wrong with this approach. What happens if they don’t acknowledge it and don’t apologize? Just how long are you willing to wait? How long will you remain in unforgiveness? Should you forgiving another person be predicated upon their repentance? Was God’s forgiveness withheld and the payment for our sins paid only after we repented? No…God had a plan in place from before the foundation of the world.

God’s forgiveness was given…now our choosing to accept and receive it…that is another matter.

When I remain unforgiving towards a person who hurt me…I’m the one that’s miserable…not them. They are off and on their merry way…living their life. And there I am miserable and still hurting…taking a double hit on pain. However, if I had forgiven the hurt I’d be over it…and on to something new in my life. Life is to stressful on it’s own than to add to it…when in fact there is a simple solution. A solution called forgiveness.

When you focus on a hurt and the pain and remain unforgiving…you are unable to move on. You are focused on the past. Not the present…and not the future. You are not looking at what God is doing in your life. You are not looking with expectancy at what God can and will do in your life. Instead you are caught up on a moment in time…and not even a good one at that. Why would you want to relive over and over and over again bad things? I can almost understand the temptation to relive good things…but bad stuff? That doesn’t make a lot of sense now does it?

Sometimes unforgiveness can be used as a barrier to keep you from being hurt again. You have that permanent wall up that keeps people away. Not willing to suffer again…and be deeply hurt. So rather than take a risk…you keep people away. Does that mean you are not hurting? No…you’re just picking your poison. In exchange for what? Nothing good…that’s for sure. In your attempt to kept the bad and hurtful stuff at bay…you keep the good stuff away too.

But in doing that…what are you missing out on? You are missing out on the chance that someone will truly love and care for you. A chance to build a life together and have a love deeper than you could have ever hoped for.

If you take that risk…does that mean everything will be sweetness and light…and you won’t be hurt again. Not a chance. Of course you will…but isn’t that kind of what life is like? Now hopefully you are more discerning and making better and wiser choices along the way. But you can be sure…you’ll get hurt again.

That’s why…it’s good to be practiced up on that forgiveness thing. You’ll have many opportunities to put it to good use.

Part of being able to forgive is being able to trust God. Trust that he has something better for you. Trust that he is able to use even the bad things in life and bring good out of it. Maybe even trust him that he has a good, needed and valuable lesson in it for you.

Goodness only knows that this forgiveness thing…is part of life’s adventures. The more you do it…the better you get at it. And each time…it gets a wee bit easier to promptly forgive an offense. It holds true that when we grasp how much God has forgiven us…that we find grace to forgive others. We have no better model of forgiveness than Jesus.

Will you choose to follow his example? Will you choose to receive the healing that can comes from God alone? Will you choose to live in the present and look forward to the future and what God will do in your life? Will you choose to trust God? Choose to trust that God is just and will bring about justice however and whenever he deems best? Will you daily recognize that God has forgiven you? Will you challenge yourself to daily follow his example? When stretched to your limit…will you turn to God and ask him to give you the grace you need to forgive? To fill you with his mercy…so you can in turn demonstrate it towards another?

Will you choose to take a risk today, and tomorrow and the day after that? Risk being hurt…and having to forgive again? Great will be your reward when you walk in grace and mercy…both here on earth and in heaven to come.

Dear Lord…enable me to walk humbly in your grace and mercy…and demonstrate it toward others daily.

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