It’s no secret that the Pacific Northwest is my favorite place to visit. I love long barefoot walks on cool beaches, the sounds of the waves and the smell of the salt air. When you walk along the water’s edge, the waves lap up erasing your footprints. No evidence remains of where you had just been, just the smoothness of the sand.
Forgiveness is a bit like this. The footprints represent events in our lives that need to be forgiven and the water is like God’s love washing them away. Once God’s love has covered a transgression, there is no reminders of it left in His eyes. Unlike meandering down a long beach, we must be really intentional about forgiveness, whether we are in need of receiving it or in need of extending it, and even more diligent about allowing God’s love to wash away the reminders of the offense that caused unforgiveness to take root to begin with.
It’s not always an easy process for us to forgive others for the hurts they have caused us. And occasionally it’s not even a one and done event. Sometimes, we may find ourselves circling back around to forgive someone yet again for what we thought was already forgiven. When we are struggling with unforgiveness, it often helps to remind ourselves of what forgiveness is and it’s origins.
Forgiveness is an intentional choice to let go of negative emotions we experience because of the actions of others. Emotions like fear, hurt, grief, rejection and anger can all indicate that we may have an issue we need to resolve and that forgiveness is probably part of the solution. The best motivation to forgive others should be that we ourselves, as believers in Jesus Christ, recognize that we have been forgiven much. The price for us to be the recipients of such grace and mercy was the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He sacrificed His comfort in Heaven and His life as a human so that we might be reconciled to God the Father.
Forgiving others is a mandate given to us by Jesus Himself: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matt. 6:14-15). Forgiveness is dependent on nothing else but our obedience to follow the example Jesus set for us. It does not rest on whether or not the person who harmed or offended us is repentant or not. When we choose to extended mercy and grace to others by choosing to release our right or need for justice and compensation back to the Lord, we begin to walk in forgiveness. Forgiving others is the intentional choosing of kindness and compassion over anger, or releasing a debt we feel was incurred against us instead of clinging to our battered emotions and pride. It is not about condoning or excusing the person or their behavior but it is about trusting the one who offended us into God’s hands. Our forgiveness doesn’t set others free, it sets us free from being held captive by the actions of others.
But does forgiveness mean staying in relationship with someone who is unrepentant or someone who is abusive. No! We can walk in forgiveness while placing boundaries in our lives to protect us from ongoing hurt and offense. The principle found in Matthew 5:29-30 advocates for the removal of things that cause us to sin. If maintaining a relationship with someone continually causes you to walk in the sin of unforgiveness, it is better to distance yourself from that person or at least minimize the time spent around them until God can bring healing and restoration to your heart or until He changes the circumstances. Either way we should always strive to “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
If you have any questions, leave a comment and let’s continue this discussion! If you found this helpful, please let me know and share the link to this post on your social media for others to find the encouragement they need to choose forgiveness too. I am including a FREE Forgiveness Worksheet for you here (feel free to copy and save):
Thanks for taking the time to stop by, many blessings to you,