To those that have grown up in the church, we’ve heard the word “forgiveness” more times than we can count. We know that we’ve been forgiven and we know that we’ve been called to forgive others. But do we really respond to that calling from God? We may extend grace to people if they forget to pay us back that $20 or they show up half an hour late… but do we give grace and forgiveness when they really REALLY don’t deserve it? Whether they’re Christians or not, we’re called to forgive, to love our enemies, and to “be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
A couple of years ago I read a book called “Fifty-Seven Words that Change the World” by Darrell W. Johnson. This part of the book has stuck with me since the first time I read it and I’d like to share it with you:
I invite you to bring to mind the person you are having a hard time forgiving. I invite you to tell the Father the person’s name. And I invite you to tell the Father exactly what this person did to you. Be honest, specific, and ruthless. Now tell the Father what you would like to see happen to this person. Do not be afraid, he knows what is in your heart even if you do not tell him. Tell him how you want to see this person punished or shamed or hurt as you were hurt.
Now imagine standing at the bottom of a hill. On top of the hill is a cross. Jesus is hanging there. He invites you to come up the hill. What do you want to say to him? More of what you have already told the Father? Look into his eyes. Tell him how hard it is to forgive.
And now, as an act of your will, go back down the hill and invite the person who hurt you to come back up the hill with you. Bring the person to the foot of the cross. Looking at Jesus, and pointing to that person, as an act of your will say, “Jesus, grant this person [the grace] you have granted me.” And hear Jesus say, “I will. Blessed are you. You are never more like me and my Father than when you forgive. Go in peace.” (Pg. 89)
What’d you think about that? Did you do the exercise?
If you aren’t struggling with forgiveness, praise the Lord! If you are, I pray that the Lord would allow you to release that person so that you can experience freedom.
Maybe this exercise that Johnson gave didn’t do it for you and you still feel inner turmoil. But ultimately, we can’t forgive without the help of our God. Give it to Him. Spend time in His Word looking at Jesus’ life in the Gospels so that you can see specific examples of grace. Sit at His feet and be quiet.
Maybe the person that you can’t forgive is yourself. Remember that you are an adopted child of the King! When you surrendered your life to the Lord, “you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3) So, when God looks at you, He sees Jesus! He sees His holy and blameless child whom He loves. Don’t let this sin hinder your relationship with God anymore. Let Him love and forgive you today. Right now.
Spend some time with our Father today. Let Him speak to you through His Word. Let the Holy Spirit work in you to forgive and extend grace.
As Steve Clifford always says,
Devotional Author: Whitney Elliott