The Bible repeatedly gives us instructions like this:
“Be quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you”. Col. 3:13 Msg
Just what is forgiveness anyway? What does it do? Why does God do it? Why does He tell us to do it?
I believe that forgiveness is a powerful release. It is the giving away of energy. God’s grace unleashed upon the human heart. Forgiveness is a “bouncing back and forth” of love and acceptance that brings about transformation and growth for both persons involved.
Like I said yesterday, people in prison can’t pay. They cannot give us what we need or want. Unconsciously, we won’t let them. And when we hold on to the offense and refuse to release the offender, we live in prison, both of us. The one who has hurt us cannot escape the negativity and bitterness coming to them from us in various ways at various times. And we are stuck with the negative energy (that we have chosen to internalize) from the hurt slowly bleeding our life from us, robbing us of joy and health in many of our relationships.
Jesus calls this torture (Matt. 18). It is a trap with only one way out.
In the book of Acts, there is a story of two people. A martyr named Stephen and a murderer named Saul. God loved them both. Saul was breathing threats and anger against followers of Christ. He hated them. He wanted to see them all dead and the movement they represented destroyed. When he encountered Stephen, he was overseeing his execution. But Stephen was different. He had a peculiar inner strength and unquenchable love for God that changed people. Saul was next. Here is what happened:
“They shook their fists in rage. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily upward into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God's right hand. And he told them, "Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God's right hand!" Then they put their hands over their ears, and drowning out his voice with their shouts, they rushed at him. They dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. The official witnesses took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they stoned him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."And he fell to his knees, shouting, "Lord, don't charge them with this sin!" And with that, he died.” Acts 7:54-60
Stephen dropped the “F” Bomb! This was the beginning of the end of Saul. He was about to undergo a powerful transformation. Hatred and anger would soon be replaced in his heart by love and acceptance. So extensive would be Saul’s transformation that we would assume a new name-Paul. He became a new person-a better person-a bigger person.
Where did it all start? When he got a glimpse of Jesus. That’s always where it starts, isn’t it? Only He can set human hearts free from their prisons. That’s what He came to do!
When we forgive someone we give them a glimpse of Jesus. As a matter of fact, you are never more like Jesus than when you forgive. It is the most Christ-like thing we can do. I wonder if that is why Jesus stood up at the moment of Stephen’s stoning. He is usually “sitting at the right hand of God” not standing. Could it be that Jesus knew the powerful release of energy (grace) that was about to happen, and He stood in honor of it?
Have you been hurt? Maybe by someone you love? Do you want to experience a powerful release? Do you want to move beyond this for good and expand as a person as well? If so, you must drop the “F” bomb! Those who do transform not only themselves, but influence those around them, especially those who have hurt them. God loves them just as much as he loves you. He can take what the enemy designed for evil and turn it around for good. Forgiveness changes people.
I am not saying that you minimize what happened or how much it hurt. No, you recognize it fully, turn to God for strength and forgive. In this moment, the life of Jesus is released into you and through you toward the one who hurt you. Both persons are given the opportunity to expand as human beings- to become bigger people-to become more like Jesus.
May you remember how much God loves and forgives you.
May you be released from your prison.
May you be healed of your wounds.
May you know the love of Christ in new and profound ways.
May you release this powerful love to all those around you.
And may you drop many “F” bombs during you life!