Something that is changing me lately is an awareness that is dawning over me about the Lord. Things I knew but hadn’t put together before. Jesus is the first, the first to raise the dead, the first of the dead to be raised to eternal life, the first to seek us, the first to love us, and the first to forgive! It’s the openness of His heart, and that His heart is to be our heart toward others, that is changing me.
Jesus walked this earth in a way we have yet too; arms and heart wide open to anyone that would come to Him! Our flesh isn’t geared that way, but I believe it’s what we are called to in our walk with Him and toward others.
“He was there, hanging on a tree, looking at me, looking at Him, He had arms wide open, heart exposed, sometimes bleeding” Misty Edwards
I was talking to my dad about this subject of forgiveness, and we talked about how some people won’t forgive unless the person asks for forgiveness. I don’t believe this to be actual forgiveness, because to wait for someone to ask is to wait for justification, that they admit their wrong, is to justify that you had cause to be offended or hurt.
When they ask forgiveness it only abates our anger, we feel good by being proved right. We haven’t really forgiven; we’ve just been made happy with the admission of guilt.
True forgiveness doesn’t include thoughts of who is right, vindication, or justification. True forgiveness extends the olive branch of love in the face of offense, for loves sake alone with no return expected; just the letting go of the offense.
True forgiveness reaches out first!
Jesus, being our Example, in all cases, reached out first to forgive. When nailed to the Cross, when spit on, when beat… “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34… He issued the prayer of forgiveness before any repentance was shown, before any pangs of guilt or even doubt came into their minds…He called out forgiveness for them!
We do not experience that magnitude of hurt and offense in this life, yet we hold out for vindication and justification before we will allow someone the privilege of our forgiveness. To put it bluntly, that is not from a heart of love, or from the Lord. Even still, Jesus forgives us and calls for His heart of love to rise up within us!
True forgiveness is not weakness; it is strength beyond the flesh’s ability!
The openness of arms and heart toward others might get us hurt! We may feel the pain that others could inflict, and what if someone made us bleed? There are all kinds of painful possibilities in this world, but Jesus forgave first – even unto death, and has called us to the same.
It takes the Lord’s love in us, which is a process to have and to give out, but one that He gladly perfects in us. In the perfecting come the many opportunities to forgive. Each offense, each hurt, each misunderstanding…all opportunities to grow into “those large shoes of” Jesus’ love that we are called to fill!
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”