To forgive: to stop feeling anger or resentful toward someone. My husband and I are in the middle of a Bible study with some dear friends on Forgiveness. When we started this study, I was hoping to find the "magic answer" for forgiveness - that one thing that I could learn that would take all the resentment that I might be feeling towards situations or people away = that I might truly forgive. As I shared, we are in THE MIDDLE of this study, and I am finally realizing that the magic answer I might be looking for has been with me my entire life.
Today, as I prepared for our study, I read the parable of the unforgiving debtor (Matthew 18:21-35) with a new eye. I look at forgiveness now, as a river. God's forgiveness towards us, for ALL of our sins in all that we have done, is truly a river of forgiveness. The river freely flows, whenever it is needed. There are times when the river needs to rage - as my sins are deep and wide. There are other times when the river is more calm - as my sins are shallow and narrow. What I am grateful for, though, is the fact that the river is ALWAYS flowing. The water of forgiveness is always there for me - regardless of what my sins may be. My eternal life with Christ comes from His death on the cross, thereby making each and every sin that I have washed clean. Yet, what is amazing, is that they are wiped clean - with no record of my sin happening. God forgives~~
Now, the real test comes with MY forgiving heart. Where is my river of forgiveness? Do I share the same river with those that I come in contact with? Do they hear forgiveness from my lips AND feel forgiveness from my heart? I believe that is the true test of forgiveness. It is also time that I realize and be humbled by the fact that my forgiving heart sometimes falls short. Along MY river there are sharp turns and ragged rocks where the forgiveness gets "hung up" on. Sometimes, I think my forgiveness gets stopped by a huge dam built by incredible beavers - at that point there is NO forgiveness getting through there.
Think with me for a few moments. Is there someone in your life or a situation that you might have had (or maybe are in right now), where forgiveness seems to be falling short on your side? Maybe it takes you a while to forgive someone close to you - or maybe it is strangers that you encounter? Think for a few moments about your forgiving heart. I know mine needs some repair. I know I need to look to my forgiving heart and help to see how I can forgive others more freely, like the river. My forgiveness isn't as great as God's, it doesn't always flow as easily as God's forgiveness flows. Strange enough, when we hold on to forgiveness and we don't let it run free, we are the ones that suffer. When we don't allow our hearts to forgive, anger, resentment, and pain fill up our hearts. An unforgiving heart can truly poison us from the inside out. The anger and pain tends to fall out on those around us. Maybe it is through our daily interactions with people, maybe it is towards the ones we love, maybe it is in our attitude towards life, or even, in the way we look at our faith.
Once we let go and forgive, the river of peace can run through our hearts. That feeling is like no other. That river is one of joy, of relief, of Simple Faith - in God and in those we encounter. Once we experience the River of Forgiveness, we can get a small glimpse of what God sees in us~ Take a moment and realize all that God has forgiven you. We can't compare our forgiving hearts to God's great mercy and grace. That is truly impossible. Yet, we can lead our lives with a forgiving heart. Remember all that Christ did on the cross for us. Let the River of Forgiveness that Jesus so willingly gave to us be willingly shared by you with others. It's time to have the Simple Faith that God will be our "river guide" and keep us safe among the sharp turns and ragged rocks of forgiveness.
"... Peter asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times." Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." (NIV) Matthew 18:21-22