“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.” Psalm 32:1-2 NIV
Have you ever done something that you were certain the person you hurt would never forgive? What an awful position to be in–seeking forgiveness but having none offered.
I have been in this position but I’ve also been on the other side of the dilemma. I’ve been hurt and did not want to offer forgiveness. I remember one situation in particular when someone hurt me. When this person admitted her wrong-doing, tears flowed and guilt etched her face. Through sobs, she repeatedly told me, “You’ll probably never forgive me.”
Of course, I felt hurt, even grieved by what she had done. Honestly, at first I felt very unforgiving. I didn’t want to absolve this person of her sin–to let her off so easily would make it seem like what she did didn’t even matter.
Have you ever found yourself in either of these positions? Praying for forgiveness from another or being faced with the dilemma of whether or not to forgive? What did it feel like to hold the possibility of someone else’s forgiveness in your hands? To know that just by your words and actions you could offer peace or you could perpetuate this person’s sense of guilt?
On the other hand, what did it feel like to wait, wondering if the other person would break down their walls and offer the gift of forgiveness?
Both positions are painful and difficult. But both have a resolution. God is our model for how to respond.
God is eternally in the position to offer or withhold forgiveness. However, meeting out justice for wrong-doing and offering forgiveness are both parts of his character and behavior. God is LOVE and He is not a man (or a woman) who holds grudges or likes to see others suffer as a form of revenge. Instead, He tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Aren’t we fortunate to have a God who we can approach with confidence (Hebrews 4:16) to seek forgiveness? And that he offers it so readily?
He wants us to show the same compassion toward others. He commands us: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Forgiveness removes bitterness, anger and the desire for revenge. It draws us closer to God by allowing us to experience the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
As we celebrate Christmas, it is a reminder of why Christ came to earth in the form of a man–to offer forgiveness and to provide a way for us to have an intimate relationship with God, the Father. Aren’t we blessed to have been given such a wonderful free gift?
This free gift of FORGIVENESS is for all of us to take hold of and to learn to give to others. Are you holding back from seeking or offering forgiveness?