Forgive – A Wonderful Old Thought for a New Year!
One of the absolute, most glorious attributes of the Christian faith is forgiveness. The splendor and brilliance of God’s forgiveness of our sins is overwhelming. God loved us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die on a cross so that He could say, “Your sins have been paid for and I forgive you.” At that spiritual transactional moment our sins are gone. They are never to be held against us again, never to be a part of our life and never to be a part of our future. They are gone! As the Old Testament struggles with trying to explain to us how much they are gone and where they are gone, the Scripture says that they are buried in the depths of the sea. They are removed as far as the east is from the west. That is a far piece.
I will never forget when I heard for the very first time someone explaining that you can go north or south just so far, and if you were to circle the globe from north to south or south to north that eventually you will get to a point that you would then end up going south to north, and then you would begin going north to south. But when you go east to west it is infinite. You can go west, and west, and west and it will always be west and you do not ever have to change or stop going west or east. God has separated our sins from us as far as the east is from the west and there is no measurement. There is no spot where it stops being west or stops being east. Our sins are gone. While we rejoice and celebrate in the glory of God’s goodness and His forgiveness of our sins, our forgiveness seems to be far more difficult for us to deal with.
When someone sins against us, wrongs us, hurts us and the opportunity for us to forgive stands at our heart’s door, what do we do? Among other things, we just kind of struggle with what to do and maybe even spend time wrestling with philosophical ideas like I may forgive, but I cannot forget. Lily Tomlin, the comedian and philosopher, once said that real forgiveness takes place when we give up all hope of ever having a better past. What a thought!
It is not unlike the statement you hear frequently today, “It is what it is.” But what do you do with it when it is what it is? The only thing that we are called on to do and the only thing that is possible to do is to let it go. Forgive! We do have the opportunity of having a better future, and it can be shaped, blessed, bright, and hopeful. When you think about it, that is the way it is with God and us. That is also the way that it can be with us and us. It is all that you can do and all that you must do. You cannot change the past, but you can let go of the past and when you do your future becomes amazingly different.
It is interesting to watch many of us who are unwilling to forgive. In our minds we determine that we have been wronged. And the truth is we have been, and so that justifies us to just live in bitterness and unforgiveness as though that will make us not only feel better but be better people. Really! For just a moment, think about that. What if God chose to walk down the road of unforgiveness toward us? His name has been defamed and He has been rejected and hurt. So God determines that He will just sit in a position of unforgiveness. As you think about that, you realize that is not His character. He is not that kind of person. You cannot believe that He would think or do that. You would be right, but He expects us to be like Him. That means when we forgive and treat people with grace and mercy we are acting in the character and goodness of God. If we do not, we take on the character of hard heartedness, bitter, broken and even angry human beings.
Our forgiveness is not just an expression to other people that lets them off the hook so that they can just go on about their business. No, our forgiving spirit lets us off of the hook and transforms our character to the likeness of Jesus. When you forgive you can live and give. Forgive for God’s sake and forgive for the sake of others. For the sake of yourself, do it today!
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