“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” – Mark 11:25
Last week we spoke about the “one” choice. If you missed it, go dig through the archives to the left of the screen. After we’ve made the choice to obey, every other choice is either made for us, or put into proper perspective.
Since we’ve made the choice to obey, let us look at the second most difficult choice we will ever make—the choice to forgive.
Before we go any further, though, I would like to revisit the idea of forgiveness. Our culture has relegated forgiveness to an emotional response. We are told that it is only when we have “cooled down” enough, or when the pain has subsided that we can forgive. This picture of forgiveness is nothing but a lie. If we could not forgive until such time as we “felt ready” then God would be a tyrant for commanding us to do something we were incapable of doing. Like worship and love, forgiveness is an act of the will; not an emotional response.
Now that we are faced with the choice to forgive, why should we? Primarily, this comes back to obedience to God’s commands. If we made the choice to follow God no matter what the cost, then we must obey God’s leading. But why would God call us to forgive those who have hurt us so deeply? It is because of God’s deep love for us! God wants us to find freedom, and unforgiveness is one of the darkest prisons we will ever face.
When we refuse to forgive, it is not the one who offended that is affected, it is we who were hurt that are trapped, chained, and beaten by the recurring nightmare of our pain. It is only when we obey, and forgive, that the chains of bitterness, and the whip of anger dissolve. It is then that we find peace and freedom. This is God’s desire for us, and the reason for the command.
Homework this week: Write a list of names of those whom you have not forgiven, and write their offense next to their name. Pray that God would give you the grace to forgive. Then, one by one, choose to forgive.
Below is a forgiveness template that I have found useful. Imagine that person in the room with you and address the offender out loud.
(Name), you hurt me very deeply when you X____. But (Name), by an act of my will, I choose to forgive you for X_____. God, would you forgive me for holding onto this offense for so long. Help me to walk in the freedom that true forgiveness offers me.
Next week we will further examine forgiveness with “What Forgiveness Is…And Is Not.”