Forgive and restore
Over the last four weeks, we have discussed unforgiveness. What it is and what it isn’t; how it affects our mental, emotional, and physical health; and how it can lead us down a dangerous road of vengeance that can unnecessarily and irrevocably destroy our lives and the lives of others. With so much happening around us every day, forgiveness is necessary if we are going to restore good, healthy relationships in our society. We agreed and discussed last week that sometimes restoration is not healthy even though forgiveness has been extended, but sometimes restoration is a good, healthy, and necessary next step.
For those that can be reconciled, God is interested in helping us to do that. The Scripture gives us the process and tells us to first meet face-to-face with the person (not on social media or Zoom). When we meet, then point out the wrong. Finally, release the person openly. Following this biblical process will help to strengthen and deepen our relationships. Relational issues will happen, sometimes daily. We are from different backgrounds with different expectations; therefore, conflicts are an expected part of relationships. This kind of meeting can strengthen relationships and help to bring closure.
When we cancel the debt, we give up demands for perfect behaviour, perfect justice, and perfect retribution. When we extend forgiveness, we begin to experience the truth that all of us are fallible humans in need of forgiveness and grace.When we forgive someone, we separate the wrong from the person who did it and disengage the person from the hurtful act. We can then think of him not as the person who hurt us, but as a person who needs us.
Many times, we are a lot like the unforgiving man in the story that Jesus told. We stand before a holy God with our sins piled up before Him. Our sins are like a US$25 million debt that we can never repay, yet out of compassion for our moral predicament, and motivated by His grace, God sent His Son Jesus to pay off our spiritual debts. Colossians 3:13 says: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” We can, therefore, choose to tolerate those who irritate us and forgive others when they wrong us because Jesus has forgiven us. We have been forgiven by God for so much, so out of gratitude, we should practise unlimited forgiveness in all our relationships.
We have good reasons to motivate forgiveness. First and foremost, we should forgive because we have received grace and forgiveness from God, and He has called us to walk in the same grace that He has extended to us. Secondly, an unforgiving spirit inflicts torment and can lead to negative mental, emotional, and physical repercussions in our lives and others. Finally, forgiveness frees people (including ourselves) and helps to build and strengthen relationships.
Are you holding on to resentment? Do you need to give someone the gift of forgiveness? Are you tired of living with the venom of an unforgiving spirit? Challenge yourself to choose freedom by choosing to forgive. Release the person that you have been holding on to and drop the resentment. Take the necessary actions to experience the freedom that comes from releasing a wrong. The ultimate proof that we have forgiven someone else is when we can honestly go to God in prayer and tell Him that we have forgiven that person. We can experience that freedom right now and choose to release the persons who have harmed or wronged us.