Spiritual Director · September 4, 2017

Devote #97


Where do I begin and where do I end? Those questions run through my mind as I think about the topic of forgiveness. Have I really forgiven that person or have I just talked myself into believing that I’ve forgiven that person?

We generally throw in all kinds of conditions with our forgiveness. We tell ourselves, we’ve really forgiven, but we don’t ever want to see that person again.

We convince ourselves we’ve forgiven, but then add a statement like, “but the hurt I’ve endured is un-forgiveable.”

We say something like, “I can’t forgive what I can’t forget.” Or we say, “I’ll totally forgive if I see the change that’s needed.”

But, do we thoroughly understand the ramifications to our lack of forgiveness? Do we grasp the concept of what we would be like if Jesus treated us the same way as we treat those who sin against us?

What if Jesus, sitting on the right hand of the Father, was asked by His Father if you should be forgiven and Jesus replied, “Well, to be honest with You Father, this has happened over and over and over again. I think we should hold off with total forgiveness. I’ve just been rejected too many times.”

Or, “You know, Father, I’d be willing to forgive them, but I won’t ever forget what they did to Me.”

All of a sudden, I don’t like what I hear. I want to be forgiven freely, but I don’t want to forgive as freely. I want to be able to hold a grudge. I want to be able to make someone squirm and feel guilty for what they did to me. I want to keep that person imprisoned in their guilt.

Well, the truth is, we keep ourselves locked away in that prison when we don’t forgive as Jesus did. We’re the ones who suffer the most.

Here’s what the Apostle Paul told us to do,

“God loves you and has chosen you as His own special people. So be gentle, kind, humble, meek and patient. Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. Love is more important than anything else. It is what ties everything completely together.” —Colossians 3:12-14

C.S. Lewis said it this way,

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today

Forgiveness is not an option for believers of Christ. It was never an option for Jesus as to whether or not He would die on the cross for your sins. He did it joyfully and yet painfully.  

I’m not saying that your hurt and suffering aren’t real, but it isn’t even close compared to Jesus. Find a way to forgive as you’ve been forgiven! You’ll be glad you did!

Help me to forgive as I have been forgiven. As You love me, help me to love those around me. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

—Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

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Mark was Spiritual Director for VdC from 2016 to 2019. He's written many of the devotions, especially the Devote and Affirm series, found on this website.