Forgiving is hard enough as it is, but when you don't have a clear understanding of why you're doing it, then you've just complicated matters. Some reading this may wonder what more there could be with forgiving others than, well, forgiving them. You get hurt, you forgive the person and you move on, right? In fact, perhaps long-time grudges or serious offenses could be healed if the wounded better understood the point of forgiveness. In spending the past six months poring through the topic of forgiveness, I've read some life-changing things that I had the opportunity to share at our women's conference, re:garding HIM, earlier this month. However, I know there are many more women who need to hear what God has to say about forgiving others and knowing we're forgiven so I will post on this blog from time to time about the topic.
When we think that a simple "I forgive you" is the end result of a wound and then we just move on, then I want to challenge your thinking. How many times have we heard women say hurtful comments, hold onto grudges and resent another but yet also say, particularly when challenged, that they really do forgive that other person, though? Perhaps we have been that kind of woman. For instance, your husband hurts your feelings time and time again. You know you need to forgive, so perhaps you pray that or you tell him that, yet you still hold onto the offense. You play it over in your mind. You certainly bring it up when he errs again. These reactions clearly show that our forgiveness was not complete. Simply saying that we forgive someone, then moving on without any effect upon our lives, lacks something. But, what does it lack?
God's end goal of forgiveness is reconciliation or unity. It's not enough to just say the words of forgiveness, but, rather, to demonstrate a reversal of the very thing that disconnected two people.
And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless and above reproach in His sight...
Colossians 1: 21-22
God gave us forgiveness and reconciliation through His Son, Jesus. If you are a child of God, this is who you were: utterly separated from God because of our evil deeds, but because of Jesus' work on the Cross--His death and resurrection, this is who you are now: forgiven and reconciled to our Father. Before, because of His holiness and our sin, God could only consume us with His wrath. But, now, Christ has done the work to declare us not only forgiven, but also holy, blameless and above reproach in God's sight.
Christ's work is the reason that we can forgive others. But, if reconciliation has not occurred, then our forgiveness is not yet complete. Repentance must be present, and if it is not, then pray diligently for the Holy Spirit to be at work softening hearts. Until repentance is evident, forgiveness will be limited. But, in this time of waiting for another's heart to soften, you must determine, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to be soft and ready to extend forgiveness and cultivate unity. If we aren't pursuing a soft heart, then we are pursuing a hard one.
So, because we have been forgiven by and reconciled with our Heavenly Father, now we must extend this same forgiveness for reconciliation with others. Imagine the glory when this happens in our homes, our relationships and our churches!