Tonight, we talked about forgiveness with the Emerge Youth group. Forgiveness is something that I definitely struggle with. I understand the concept, and I understand the importance of forgiveness, but unfortunately, that does not make forgiveness any easier for me. Forgiveness, though, is a critical part of understanding just how much our Heavenly Father loves us.
My struggles with forgiveness aren’t just with forgiving others, but I also have difficulty forgiving myself. The problem is that I am a very “black and white” person. Most things fall into one of two categories with me: right or wrong. There are not too many gray areas when it comes to my beliefs or views on things. You see, when I make a mistake, it does not normally come as a surprise to me. I am very analytical, and I rarely find myself in a situation for which I have not thought out the outcome. When I make a mistake, nine times out of ten, I am aware of the mistake that I am about to make. It seems so much harder to forgive an intentional mistake than it would be to forgive something that was purely an accident or just done without much thought. Fortunately for me, my God does not choose to forgive only those that accidentally mess up, He forgives people like me as well.
When Peter asked Jesus how many times that he needed to forgive someone who sinned against him, Peter suggested seven times. Jesus replied to him saying, “not seven times but seventy times seven times.” Forgiveness is a never-ending process. We cannot forgive someone once and then choose not to forgive them for an offense that they may commit later. Just imagine if God chose to forgive us a limited number of times. How much trouble would we be in? We serve a God who cast our sins as far as the East is from the West. He not only forgives, but He forgets. What an incredible blessing that is.
I challenge you this month to forgive someone who you have not yet forgiven. For some of you, there may not be many people who you haven’t forgiven. For others, like myself, there may be someone whom you have harbored unforgiveness for months or years. It is important to understand that once you have truly forgiven someone, then you have to let go of the situation.
I also challenge you to ask for forgiveness from someone whom you have possibly offended or hurt. When you ask for forgiveness, it is crucial to understand the difference between apologizing and repenting. Apologizing is essentially nothing more than lip service. True repentance is not just saying that you are sorry, but it is changing your ways as well. It is essentially choosing to make a 180 degree turn from the things that you have done in the past.
I leave you with this: God’s grace is sufficient for you! His grace is a gift that He freely gives. Accept it and forgive yourself and others in the process. If we are to be like Christ, then we are to forgive like Christ.