“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” — Luke 6:27
I was challenged last year by Luke 6:27 after reading R.T. Kendall’s powerful book, “Total Forgiveness.” My thoughts whirled as God began to tell me to bless someone who had hurt me and pray for him. But didn’t God understand how hurt I had been? Wasn’t uttering the words to myself “I forgive him” enough? I asked God for help, and He showed me a picture of the person who had caused the hurt and asked me to pray for and bless him. It was an incredible challenge and a lengthy process to forgiveness!
So, why does the Lord want us to offer, receive or ask for forgiveness? Although it’s a process that provokes many different responses, it’s clear from Scripture that our heavenly Father views it very seriously. Let’s take a moment to reflect on being forgiven by the Father. His response to a fallen and sinful world was to send Jesus. We can go to the Father and ask for forgiveness at any moment of the day or night – He always responds to a repentant heart and forgives. Sometimes, receiving the Father’s forgiveness can feel hard. If this is something that stirs within you, then I encourage you to meditate on the words from Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness”
This love sent Jesus to the cross for us so that we can stand forgiven, set free and redeemed! Experiencing the Father’s forgiveness helps us respond to the promptings to forgive others when they have caused us hurt and offense. It is inevitable that people will offend us and cause pain. We will need to choose to forgive them. In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asks “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” Jesus was quick to respond, “No, not seven times, but seventy times seven.”
Jesus understood suffering and was well aware of the betrayal that would take place by those who loved Him; however, as Pastor Brain Mowrey pointed out in his Sunday sermon, this knowledge did not make Jesus love them any less or act differently. Forgiving is a process. If we have been badly wounded, we may need to keep forgiving every time that person’s face comes to mind, even though we may walk with the consequences of the person’s actions. In my own walk, I had missed the point about forgiving — the bit where, when we forgive others, we are released and experience a deeper freedom and intimacy with our heavenly Father.
In your First 20, ask the Father if there are areas of unforgiveness in your life. Allow Him — the one who comes to release you into freedom — to speak to you.
For more detailed teaching on what forgiveness is and isn’t, and why we should forgive, listen to Brian Mowrey’s sermon at http://www.walnuthillcc.org/sermons/forgiveness/.
Our God hears,