Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The power of forgiveness

Grace amazes me.

Grace just isn’t fair. Everyone is a sinner. We all fall short of God’s glory and as much as we may deserve, shall I say death, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross allows us straight access to God almighty to ask forgiveness and realign our lives with His purpose.

Whoa! Death? I know, it sounds very dramatic, but I have to break it to you, just being a “good” person doesn’t cut it. Doing good things, having good intentions and good thoughts are, well, good, but they are no grounds for salvation. The Bible tells us that the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ. That means that no matter what you have done, if you accept Christ as your savior, repent for your sins, you are forgiven and your name is written in the Book of Life.  Sincerely coming to the Lord and turning from your old self is a life-changing experience, but I want to focus on grace and how God is quick to forgive the moment we ask Him for forgiveness and begin a relationship with us.

One of the major grounds of Christianity lies in forgiveness and what do you know…it is easier said (or preached from a pulpit) than done. If the almighty God can forgive us for all of the lying, nasty, cheating, ugly, filthy things we do on a day-to-day, who are we not to forgive our neighbor? Like I said grace is not fair. When someone crosses us, it may be natural to hold collateral over their head. “You cheated on me, you took advantage of my trust, you lied, you betrayed,” all valid reasons to hold someone to account for what they did. It feels fair to hold a grudge against the person for what they did to you. I am sure you can validate your feelings; so can I. However, as Christians, Christ calls us to forgive our neighbors, not only that, but to LOVE our enemies. If I’m called to love my enemy, shouldn’t I be able to find it in my heart to forgive a friend? And yes, Fren-i-mies fall into this category as well.

Think of some of the wrong and sinful things you have done in the past, or maybe even today. Then imagine asking God for forgiveness and hearing him say, “No.” Then think of how many times you have refused to forgive someone in your heart from the wrong they have done to you. I know it’s hard, even when a person apologizes to you, to forgive someone who has done you wrong. I get that. I’ve felt it. I know it.

But I also know what it’s like to hold a grudge. I know the stronghold that comes from an unforgiving heart, to not be able to even think about a person without wanting something terrible to happen to them. Hey, I’m human and I am one with my shortcomings. I have been there. Yet in the few years I have walked this earth I have learned that unforgiveness has hurt me more than it has ever hurt the other person. A grudge becomes a prison we put our OWN heart in.

When we extend grace, we are extending power. When we extend the power of forgiveness to people, we are empowering Christ-like habits to bear fruit within us and we are freeing ourselves from the possible bitter roots of unforgiveness that could implant in our hearts and mind. We are empowering ourselves to move forward and empowering the other person to change their ways. When grace is extended to a person who is undeserving, it changes them; just as grace and mercy changes us when we come to Christ.

The beauty of grace is that it’s not fair, and at the moment it doesn’t feel fair to have to release a person for what they did to you, but the truth is, the person you really release when extending forgiveness is yourself. 

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