“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32
Do you remember, as kids, when an adult would force us to have this kind of conversation?
“Go ahead. Say you’re sorry”
“See? They said they’re sorry. What do you have to say?”
“It’s okay. I forgive you.”
“Good. Now, hug. And go back to playing.”
I’ll admit it wasn’t the best way to teach us sincere remorse or forgiveness, but as time passed, we’d get over it and go back to playing together as if nothing had happened.
That strategy won’t really work for adults. We’ve all been deeply wounded by the broken promises, hurtful words, and irreversible actions of other people. We might be able to utter the phrase, “I forgive you”, but deep down, we know we haven’t fully healed.
But do we need to heal in order to forgive? What if the act of forgiveness – the intentional surrender of our pain and our offender’s heart to the Lord – what if that’s part of our healing?
It took me over ten years to forgive someone who hurt me deeply. Every year I’d replay how much that person had hurt me, all their broken promises, their words that fell flat, their selfish actions that left me feeling abandoned. It wasn’t until a friend helped me realize that I was living in bondage to this hurt. I wasn’t giving it to the Lord. I wanted to hold on to that resentment because I didn’t know how to let it go.
Jesus asked His Father to forgive the people because they did not know what they were doing. He hung there on the cross, taking all the punishment we deserved on Himself, and entrusted His Father to empower Him to do so. That’s what you and I need to do. Paul reminds us of that in today’s passage. There’s no other way to truly forgive apart from the Holy Spirit.
For all the wrong they’ve done to you, Christ has forgiven them. For all the wrong you’ve done, Christ has forgiven you. Now, it’s your turn.
Father God, Thank You for forgiving my sins. I trust in Jesus today. Thank You because You no longer hold my sins against me and You look at me with Jesus’ righteousness. You ask me to forgive the same way You forgive but I have a hard time. Holy Spirit, please give me the power to forgive _________ for what they did to me. I pray that __________ would be reconciled to You. Help me to let go of any resentment and attitudes that I am holding on to that do not glorify You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.