There is actually a pretty big difference between choosing not to do something and struggling to do it. Aside from the obvious actions required, they are at opposite sides of the heart. What does this have to do with needing to forgive?
I know that I do not have as much muscle as my husband. Even
when I am in my best shape, my husband just has the muscle and the leverage I
don’t. This means that when I get the bright idea to move furniture around,
again, he is the one doing the bulk of the heavy lifting. He has struggled to
lift the couch for me to see if I like it better in a new position, but he has
refused to move the piano. It would be a bit of a struggle for him to move the
piano around by himself, but the fact is he is not doing it at all.
Our hearts are like that. When we have been hurt we know
that the only godly action is to be forgiving. However, some hurts are harder
to just move beyond and the world tells us that there are hurts that it is okay
to hold onto. I lost track of the number of times I have heard that it is okay
to be hurt and refuse to forgive because what was done was unjust or too much
for a person to handle.
And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
How sobering is it to realize that forgiveness is commanded?
There are no qualifications, though we’d like to set them there sometimes, that
designate different levels of necessary forgiveness offered. We are commanded
to forgive as God forgives us in Christ. That means completely and totally
forgiving and not holding it over
someone else that they have wronged us.
Over time I have grown in Christ and I had become very
convicted that I had not really forgiven a few different people in my life. I
had said “Of course I forgive you!” But, I held on to the hurt and at least a
little of the anger and resentment. In time I came to realize I needed to put
real effort into forgiving them as Christ forgave me. However, even after
putting effort in I began to be concerned that I was not truly honoring God
because I was having a hard time with it.
Enter my interior design example. There are things like the
couch that take effort, and while we will eventually do them, initially we
struggle with them. Then, there are pianos that are difficult and we flat out
refuse to move. Forgiveness is similar. If we are flat out refusing to forgive
and we are holding tight to hurt then we are sinning and we are not even trying
to fellowship with God. However, if we are struggling with it, we are putting
the effort in to have fellowship with God and because of our love for God we
are striving to forgive no matter the injury- then we are not living in sin.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The biggest difference between the two is our heart. While
forgiveness seems like something that is all about us, like everything in our
lives, it really comes down to who holds our hearts. Our sin keeps us from God
and His love gave us a way to come near. When we refuse to forgive we are
revealing that we treasure our own pride more than God.
Truthfully, there is nothing anyone could possibly do
against us that would ever compare to our sin separating us from God; but, if
our hearts are set on how someone else’s sin is affecting us then we choose to
hold tight to that hurt and refuse to offer forgiveness. If our hearts are set
on Christ though, we will desire to forgive as He has forgiven because we will
see and understand that His forgiveness was so much greater than ours could be.
Forgiving glorifies God and is a way we can bless others and keep our own heart on the right treasure.
We are all sinners saved only by the grace of God. He has forgiven the most detestable parts of us and because of that incredible love, we must forgive the little bits of detest we see in others. It is not for us to declare someone worthy or unworthy, it is only for us to love and to trust God’s command to forgive as He has forgiven.
Forgiveness as God commands it:
Matthew 6: 14-15
*Quick note- Forgiveness and complete trust do NOT have to go hand in hand. It is possible to forgive someone, but still maintain specific boundaries and efforts toward accountability to keep you both safe from a sin pattern forming. A post will be written in the future talking more about that. For now, please do remember: God’s grace is more than your current situation, it is more than your present heart ache, and He will strengthen and equip you to do His Will even in the most soul searchingly difficult and painful experiences of your li
I'm Rebecca, a Christian, wife, and mother of three. I lived wrong for a long time, got pretty well slapped with the reality of how sanctifying marriage and motherhood are, and now I am hoping to help others to hold on to Jesus in all the hard parts of life.