I’ve been participating in the Good Morning Girls Intentionally Focused Bible study for the last 5 weeks, Y’all it has been goooooood. I have been pricked by several of the verses, but this was one of the verses from earlier that hit me hard.
Colossians 3:12-14 (ESV)
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
These are the traits that we should wear as believers, but do we?
I admit, I don’t do these very well. But I really want to focus on one thing that stood out to me.
as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also MUST forgive
This means that we must forgive without stipulation! Without expectations. (but not without boundaries, if necessary).
We ALL sin and fall short.
How then can we hold others to a standard that we ourselves cannot reach?
Several years ago, the children and I were reading one of Corrie Ten Boom’s books. In it, she tells the story of meeting one of the guards in the concentration camp. He had no idea that she had been in the same camp he guarded. But he came up after her testimony and asked forgiveness. She knew. She knew he’d have to forgive him as Christ forgave her. And amazing, with the power of Christ, she did.
How HARD that would be! To forgive one of the people responsible for such a miserable existence. To forgive one of the persons inadvertently responsible for her sister and fathers death.
I’m not sure I could have stuck my hand out to shake his hand.
I pray I would have, but that’s a tall order to fill.
A while back I overheard a conversation that resembles something that I too have been guilty of doing. Quite honestly I don’t remember the specifics, but I’ve been guilty enough of doing this myself that I’ll have no problem recreating a similar scenario.
It went something like this:
“I’m sorry, I was wrong”
“Do you know what could have happened?”
“Yes, and I’m sorry”
“Do you know what you did to me?”
“Yes, I do, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have put you through that”
“You have no idea how what I had to deal with because of YOUR sin!”
And on it went…I honestly don’t know how long this went on, or how those involved ended this part of the conversation and moved on to something else.
My guess is something like,”well, ok, as long as you’ve learned something.”
Forgiveness with stipulation.
My heart went OUCH!
Sorrow for the person on the other end of the conversation
and sorrow for myself
I have been guilty of the very thing I witnessed that day.
But seeing it brought out the wrongness of what I do.
That person was not forgiven. That person continued to be beaten up for the sin; even though God, through Christ’s blood, had already forgiven that person.
You can’t tell me that the person that asked the questions, had not built up bitterness and resentment between the time the offense occurred and the time the person asked for forgiveness because I’ve been there.
If you have a forgiving spirit, you don’t beat someone up for their sin after they repent. If you have a forgiving spirit, you have already forgiven them in your mind. In fact, if you have the right attitude, you’re praying for them to repent. And you’re waiting for them to come to you and make things right.
Forgiveness doesn’t happen when the person asks for it. Forgiveness is an attitude that we must possess to live as Christ lived.
We CANNOT hold someone else to a standard we ourselves cannot attain. And we cannot attain the standard Christ gives us.
Not only that but the Scripture above says that our sins will be forgiven as WE FORGIVE.
If we make excuses, if we remind the person what they did after they repent, then we are not forgiving and we will be judged in that manner.
*** Please see my husband’s additional thoughts in the comment section. We have talked about what he wrote often, but for some reason my brain fogged and I failed to mention the VERY important point he makes below.
I hate to think of the way I have been unforgiving
and of the ways I will be unforgiving in the future
God forgives our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12)
He remembers our sins no more (Hebrews 8:12)
We should do the same for others…
Father, I repent right now for all the times I have held someone’s sin against them. Not forgiving them as I should. Not loving them as I should. I ask that you help me to forgive as you forgive. I ask that you help me to love as you love. I ask that you do these things in my heart to those especially that are hard to forgive, and hard to love.
**That being said, a lifestyle of sin cannot be tolerated. This is different from forgiving 7×70 (Matt 18:22). This is someone who refuses to allow the Spirit to work in their life to remove the sinful behavior. We should forgive individual offenses, and we should have an attitude of forgiveness towards this person. This is a time for boundaries.