Out of all the things that have been racing through my mind in the last couple of weeks I feel most led to share about forgiveness. And there is so much I wanna say. But I will try to remember I am only writing a blog entry and not a book. This Bible study, Living Beyond Yourself, is very challenging. I had no idea just how much I would learn. I’m picking up on things in scripture I hadn’t noticed before. You know how it is when you have heard something for your entire life but one day you hear it again and it’s like you’ve heard it for the first time? Something jumps out at you and you gain insight on it that you have never noticed before? Yeah, I’m there with nearly every lesson in this study.
A portion of last week’s study talked about forgiveness. If anyone has had to deal with forgiving someone else in their lifetime (that’s everyone by the way) then you realize what a journey it involves. A particular verse of scripture Beth’s used in the study was Colossians 3:13. If you have been to church for very long you have probably heard it as well. It says “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (NIV) Read that again a little closer this time. We all have people in our life that we have to remind ourselves to be patient with them or as Paul says it “Bear with each other”. Some of them may live in our own house, work in our office, sit beside us in church and/or have their own branch on our family tree. There’s a whole lesson just in that verse. However, the part that jumped out at me is the last sentence of that verse – Forgive as the Lord forgave you. WOW! I’m gonna stop writing for a second to give you a chance to absorb that………………………………………………………….
Let’s think about how God forgives, shall we? The whole goal in being a Christian is to be like Christ. Christ is all about forgiving. Noone ever has or ever will “do” forgiveness like him. The psalmist wrote in Psalm 103:12 “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” (NLT) That’s some serious forgiveness! Jeremiah went so far as to say “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” (NLT) in Jeremiah 31:34. NEVER! Did you see that in that sentence? NEVER remember their sins! Think about that! We ask God to forgive us of some sin and he does it without question and then he doesn’t ever remember – NEVER! That’s how God forgives. And according to Colossians that is how we are supposed to forgive. It says “forgive as God has forgiven you”. I don’t know about you but I’m not sure I’ve ever really forgiven to the extent that God forgives us. I mean, I’ve forgiven a lot of people of a lot of things but can I really say that I’ve forgiven them ask God wants me to? That’s some hardcore forgiving right there.
Talk about a challenge! Whew! And why haven’t I ever really thought about that before. I know that sentence has been there all along. So, why is it that I feel like God just slipped it in the Bible in the last week? That’s how I know that the Bible is ALIVE and that the Holy Spirit lives within me. Every now and then something will jump out at me like that and I feel a deep connection and an incredible sense of awe.
Forgiveness is not for the weak of heart. It’s probably one of the most difficult parts about being in any relationship with someone else. And no matter how old I get I’m not sure I will ever be able to forgive someone else as God has forgiven me. But my “job” as a Christian is to try. If Christ did it – then I’m supposed to strive to do it. It’s not easy! There’s nothing easy about forgiving someone. I think I’ll have to cover that next – WHY we are supposed to forgive. Surely God doesn’t expect us to forgive EVERYTHING, right? Or does he?
I have a number of experiences with forgiving others that I could share with you. Some may surprise you. But I wonder if I have forgiven any of them to the degree that God has forgiven me. There’s something to dwell on.