Gracefully Truthful

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Read His Words Before Ours!

Psalm 103:8-14
Matthew 6:14-15
Matthew 18:21-35
Colossians 3:12-14
I John 1:9 

I don’t know about you, but, while I like the idea of forgiveness,
I find it challenging at times.

“Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors,” is one of those prayers where the words are easy to say, but it’s much more difficult when we stop and think through what it actually means. 

A while ago I realised I was struggling with un-forgiveness towards someone.  It surprised me because I’m not usually one to hold a grudge and it wasn’t a massive offence but, in this instance, I was angry.  It annoyed me that the person didn’t even seem to have noticed the issue until I pointed it out. Then, their apology, when it finally came, seemed half-hearted. They didn’t seem to grasp the seriousness of what they had done or how it had hurt me.
Just saying sorry didn’t make it all okay. 

I was complaining to God about how unfair it all was when I had a second moment of realisation: isn’t that exactly what I often do to Him? 

How many times do I do things that hurt Him, but don’t even notice? 
How often are my apologies to Him half-hearted, taking His forgiveness for granted?
Do I really grasp the seriousness of sin and its consequences? 

In those moments I’m grateful that God doesn’t forgive me the way I sometimes forgive others. His forgiveness is complete.
He doesn’t bear a grudge against us.
He takes our sin and removes it “as far as the east is from the west.”  (Psalm 103:12) 

I’m grateful that His forgiveness isn’t limited,
instead He continues to forgive over and over again.
Jesus says in response to Peter’s question,
not as many as seven times… but seventy times seven.”  (Matthew 18:22) 

Incidentally, I don’t think Jesus is suggesting a literal limit of forgiving 490 times.
By that point, we would probably have lost count!
I think His point is we should keep on forgiving. 

Just as God forgives us.
I’m glad He doesn’t set a limit on me,
so why should I set a limit on others? 

This doesn’t mean it’s easy! 
Especially where the consequences of the sin have been more serious.
When we’ve been wounded deeply.
Where we have lasting scars. 

In Matthew 18, Jesus shares a parable. A servant is in debt to his master, and it is a massive debt, one that he will never be able to pay.  To the servant’s amazement, the master shows mercy and cancels his debt!  You would expect the servant to be grateful, but instead he goes out and finds another servant who owes him a small amount of money and, ignoring the man’s pleas for mercy, throws him into prison until the debt is paid. 

The servant’s behaviour seems crazy!
How can he continue to pursue such a small debt when he has been forgiven so much? 

I admit though that I used to struggle with that story. 

The problem was I felt the sins I was being asked to forgive
were bigger than any sins I had committed.
I felt that I was being forgiven a small amount,
but being asked to forgive a much bigger debt,
and it seemed unfair. 

Finally God opened my eyes to the truth:
My debt was a massive one.
Not because the things I had done were terrible by human standards,
but because they were against Him, the holy and righteous God.
It was a debt I could not pay.

No amount of good deeds or hard work would balance the books in my favor.
There was nothing I could do to make it right.
My situation was just as hopeless as the servant’s in the story, and I needed God’s mercy. 

Fortunately, that is exactly what He offers!
John writes, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1:9) 

If I really understood this mercy, 
and took hold of it, 
I had to offer the same mercy to others. 

I realised that forgiveness is not denying the hurt, or saying that it didn’t matter,
rather it’s handing it over to God and letting Him be the judge.
Forgiveness is trusting Him to deal with the sin against me instead of trying to make it right by myself.  

I found that forgiveness was a process.
It wasn’t something that happened all at once,
but over a period of time I was able to let go and truly forgive. 

The good news is that we don’t need to do it by ourselves.
God gives us His Spirit to help us.
As we grow in Him, “as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved,” (Colossians 3:12)
we understand His forgiveness more deeply,
through which He equips us to follow His example and extend that same forgiveness to others.

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Christin
Christin
5 years ago

Such great words of wisdom and truth! I also have struggled with this parable, and it is so true–we ALL have a debt we can never repay! Praise God for His forgiveness towards us, who gives us the strength to forgive others!

Mary Geisen
Mary Geisen
5 years ago

Forgiveness is not the same as just saying “I’m sorry”. We teach young children to tell another child “I’m sorry” when something needs to be cleared up but that’s like putting a bandaid on to cover it up. Your words about forgiveness each us how God forgives and how we can do the same. You truly dug into the foundation of what forgiveness looks like. Thank you for these words.

Rebecca Adams
Admin
5 years ago
Reply to  Mary Geisen

I agree, Mary. Words can only do so much, it’s our actions and heart attitude that truly matter.
Lesley did a great job digging into this topic that is oh-so-relevant!

Anita Ojeda
Anita Ojeda
5 years ago

Yep. I needed this today! I’m working to forgive the stylist who butchered my hair. Thank you for the reminder that forgiveness is a process and that we sometimes have to work at it!

Sarah
Sarah
5 years ago

Lesley, this was such a good post! I, too, usually don’t struggle with forgiveness, but recently there was an instance where I had the hard task of trying to forgive someone that didn’t know that they had hurt me. I had to fight the urge to call their attention to it. I had to go through the difficulty of forgiving them without an apology. And I couldn’t do it. I had to live from Christ’s power in me. I had to choose daily to love them. I am so so so grateful for the Lord’s mercy and grace towards me!… Read more »

Lisa Brittain
Lisa Brittain
5 years ago

These are great points and a much-needed discussion in our world today. I don’t think people in Jesus’ day forgave more easily. I think people are people and it is just plain hard to forgive sometimes. We don’t really know how to forgive. It doesn’t come naturally, but Jesus really wants us to know how. I’m so grateful He has so much to say to us about forgiveness. Forgiveness is truly a key which can set us free. Thank you!

Lisa notes
Lisa notes
5 years ago

Forgiving again and again is often so hard to do, but I’m so thankful that God does! “I’m grateful that His forgiveness isn’t limited,
instead He continues to forgive over and over again.” Amen.

Yvonne Chase
Yvonne Chase
5 years ago

Forgiveness is definitely an ongoing process especially when tactics like gaslighting are involved and people are blind to the depth of their hurtful acts. Have mercy, Jesus!

Stacey Pardoe
Stacey Pardoe
5 years ago

This so truth-filled! If we truly grasped the depth of Christ’s forgiveness, our hearts just might be transformed to his image of mercy. It’s not easy to forgive when someone never says sorry or doesn’t admit to the offense, but my heart is much the same all too often! I love all the Scripture in this post!

Barbara Robbins
Barbara Robbins
5 years ago

Another excellent post, Leslie. Forgiveness was the subject of discussion for our iConnect Bible study class at church yesterday, so a subject already on my heart and mind. I shared a very personal story of forgiveness and God teaching me that sometimes forgiving is not just a single act but a process, especially when there is a very hurtful situation involved. Was thinking about putting this story in writing when I saw your new post.

Joanne Viola
Joanne Viola
5 years ago

Such a thought provoking post … I sure am grateful God doesn’t keep count of how many times I have received His forgiveness. May He fill me with all I need to forgive others, no matter how many times.

Patricia
Patricia
5 years ago

Such a thoughtful post…..The song, “Losing” by Tenth Avenue North finally broke through my spirit of unforgiveness. You post is a refresher course that is much needed and helpful! Thank you!

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bethany mcilrath
bethany mcilrath
5 years ago

Lesley, this is so convicting (but also encouraging.) This really resonates with me: “The problem was I felt the sins I was being asked to forgive
were bigger than any sins I had committed.
I felt that I was being forgiven a small amount,
but being asked to forgive a much bigger debt,
and it seemed unfair. ” I so get that. Thanks for explaining more and reminding me of God’s great forgiveness! Oh, to be more like Him!

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