Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.- Colossians 3:13
I would like to consider myself a forgiving person. When someone says, ‘I’m sorry’, I always respond with, ‘It’s okay’. Truthfully, other than with Hugh, there are not many situations I find myself in where people are apologizing.
And sometimes, that feels like the problem.
Think about it.
You are driving down the road, and someone cuts you off.
A co-worker makes a sarcastic comment that rubs you the wrong way.
A friend forgets to recognize an important event in your life.
Many of these things appear blatant. But, what about the deeper issues- those things that cut your heart and wane your spirit like a surgeon’s knife, slowly, deeply, internally?
Your parents- or even your spouse- never love you the way you feel you desperately need to be loved.
Your boss keeps offering the raise to, it seems, everyone but you; although you sense you are working harder than anyone.
The physicians are all giving you different care plans and various opinions on the disease that is ravishing the body of you or your loved one.
For all these things, there is no one apologizing; yet you are feeling more and more wounded as time passes on.
Christ died for us while we were still sinners. This demonstrates God’s love for us.- Romans 5:8
There was no one apologizing to Jesus while He was on the cross. Even those who loved Him most were standing at a distance or too concerned with their own loss to recognize the depth of the cost that was being paid.
His love spanned so far beyond the imperfect emotions of humanity that in that moment, He made a choice to not need an apology in order to continue to follow through with His promise to His beloved.
Not just in action.
His whole being was filled with faithfulness to His children- their reaction irrelevant.
While we were still sinners- meaning, in the trenches of us not being able to connect with God without the mediating act that was in the process of occurring, Jesus still chose to love us.
Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must forgive.
Don’t we get it?
Our world is so infiltrated with pointing fingers and reveling and gasping at others’ mistakes that we have forgotten the very example that was given to us while Jesus was hanging, body mangled and spirit grieving at the cross.
Point blank, we have forgotten how much we have been forgiven and the crucial realization that if we have been forgiven from the very nature that would have sent us away from God forever, surely they can be forgiven- both in heart and mind- for whatever they have done.
Our mantra to the world is supposed to be very clear:
No matter what you have done- if you turn to God and put that horrible thing in His hands- His reply will always be forgiveness.
And- if that is His reply- how could it ever not be ours?
You see, when we don’t offer up forgiveness to those around us, we are implying that what Jesus did on the cross was not enough.
So many times I think we- I- have this mindset that because the other person hasn’t offered an apology, it is my place to continue to hold them in judgment.
This could not be further from the truth.
Forgive, just as I have forgiven you.
“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven- for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”- Matthew 7:47
The Pharisees were irate. This woman, whom the scriptures literally identify as, “A woman of the city, who was a sinner”, showed up and began taking the attention of their dinner with Jesus. She poured an expensive jar of ointment on Jesus’ feet and, while weeping, began to rub His feet with this oil. The Pharisees sneered, thinking that Jesus would not have allowed this woman to do so if He had known her extensive sin record.
The healthy don’t need a doctor; the sick do. (Matthew 9:12)
She knew her place was at the feet of the only One who could save, and she was filled with worship and awe.
“Your sins are forgiven.”- Jesus, Matthew 7:48
I place myself at that table, and I wonder if I can honestly say I would be the woman and not the Pharisees.
Am I comfortable being recognized as the sinner instead of pointing out the sins of those around me?
Do I spend more time basking at the feet of Jesus; or am I utterly concerned with how things appear externally?
Do I forgive as Jesus forgave- or do I place criteria on sins that God Himself didn’t even place?
When we look at the Lord’s Prayer, a prayer that many of us have said since we were young, one of the lines is, ‘Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors’.
Is the amount of forgiveness I am offering others today the amount of forgiveness I want to be given by God Himself?
You see, my sins are infinitely more than I even realize.
I cut people off in traffic.
I offend my friends and neighbors, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
I forget important events.
I wound without meaning to wound.
I want those things on the forgiven list, too.
This weekend, might we dig deeper into our forgiveness pattern.
Are we quick to hold offenses or quick to give grace?
Do we hold on to bitterness, allowing it to slowly take over our spirits, or do we simply ask God to help us take those things to the cross?
Do we wait for an, ‘I’m sorry’ before we take something off someone’s record, or do we simply offer them the forgiveness God has asked us to give?
When we fixate on how we have been wronged, we carry around these hurts like a rusted anchor on our souls.
And let it be known that hurting people hurt others.
When we trust in what Christ did at the cross, recognizing how forgiving we truly are and believing all our mistakes, all our offenses, all our guilt, is nailed to the cross- we are freed to offer that same grace to others.
And- let it be known that freed people help free others.
Beloved- because Christ offered Himself up for you while you were still yet a sinner, you can trust Him with any and all wrongs done to you as well.
May we be a people quick to extend grace, and instead of pointing fingers, might we lift our hands to the sky and praise the One who has the might, the power, the love to obliterate all the sin in each of our lives.
Amen and amen.