So, it’s been a while since I wrote a blog, and I have yet to write the blog on a controversial topic that I think that still needs to be talked about. However, I believe this topic is just as controversial because the topic is simply about forgiveness. A word that a lot of people reflect on and can all agree that it’s easier said than done. But that’s just the beauty of it, a lot of people see it as a word and not what it really is; forgiveness for a Christian is an action, not a word. Love is an action, and not a word. And in a world that’s at war rather it be with a physical enemy or with supernatural forces, real warriors are called to love, and part of loving is forgiving!
The main idea of forgiveness is forgiveness is an act of love, and warriors of Christ are commanded to love!
Some of you, who are reading this are probably doing three things. The first thing you’re probably doing after reading the main idea is counting down the many time you’ve heard a sermon about forgiveness and are probably thinking about how much this will not phase you. The second thing that you’re probably is probably getting ready to say, “Amen” without even reading the rest of this blog. And the third thing that you’re probably doing is what I consider to be the best out of the two things; you have a sense of intrigue to hear this topic of encouragement again and have the convicting understanding that a subject like this especially for a Christian is one that needs to be heard over and over and over again. The reason why I say the third thing is the best thing that can happen is because if you’re doing the first and second thing, then you are in grave danger and forgot what being a Christian is! Forgiveness is not an easy thing to do, but it is one thing that displays the same kind of love Christ had for us! And if we truly believe Christ saved us, we are commanded to be more like Him!
First thing to understand about forgiveness, forgiveness is an act of love. And Christians are called to love and forgive (especially our enemies; our enemies are our neighbors but we’ll get to that in a minute). However, I also believe that a lot of us have a misunderstanding of what love looks like and what forgiveness looks like. Like love, forgiveness is an action, yet we treat it as some kind of emotion. Forgiveness and love is not an emotion, but a choice based on an action of really wanting to. Desire itself is an action that even pushes one beyond their limits! For example, the training of Navy SEALS is so extreme that it’s hard to comprehend and truly understand if one has not experienced it, yet for those who have, they can tell you that while the training puts a physical strain, the intense training is made to mentally refine a SEAL to be determined and handle the most extreme pressures that’s thrown at their feet (if any SEAL read this and I get something wrong, please forgive me, and I thank you for your service). In the same case, that’s what forgiveness is. But the other thing we need to understand also is that forgiveness and love is not passive! In fact, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 about what love really is! Love is not passive and does not delight itself in evil ways, nor is it arrogant, but rejoices in truth! Reasons why we are called to forgive our enemies is again to display the same kind of love Christ had for us!
Second thing to understand about forgiveness, forgiveness recognize and realizes the grace God has for us. Understand something, NO ONE is worthy of God’s forgiveness, but He is forgiving! He forgave us out of grace; grace is getting something good that we do not deserve! So when you saying “grace” at the table, understand that grace is basically getting something good despite how unworthy we are. All of us have fallen short of the glory of God, and we were seen as enemies of God. But because God loves us, He sent Jesus to pay for our sins and to show that despite our sins, He still loves us! If you disagree with me, Paul says otherwise in Romans 5:8 and if you want another story of grace, read the story of Hosea. God has every reason to not forgive us, yet because He is God, He showed us grace! The same can be said when someone has wronged you. Yes, you are angry and have every right to be, but in the end forgiveness realizes the true nature of grace. Our enemies do not deserve to be forgiven, but neither did we. Not saying whatever injustice they did is right, but displaying the same kind of grace Christ displayed for us on the cross plants the seed to come to know Christ. Remember, you’re planting a seed, just as some other sinner planted a seed in you, and you’ve seen God grow that seed.
Third thing to understand about forgiveness, forgiveness is a part of God’s warrior training. I know, you’re probably sick of hearing this again but it needs to be understood over and over again. Remember that illustration I made about the SEAL training and what it is made to do? Well, it can be applied back into this! Hardships and suffering is what makes us more like Christ. My first blog, I made the distinct discovery that Christ Himself is a warrior, and the image of Christ should be seen as such (here’s the link if you want to see it and I encourage you to if you haven’t seen it jrkruseblog.wordpress.com/2016…). God’s intentions for us is not to hurt us, but build us up. Like I said earlier, if someone has wronged you, you have every right to hold onto such pain and want revenge, but part of warrior training is learning to let go and give that to the Lord. We are selfish by nature, and once we understand forgiveness and the realize that it’s an act of grace, we also see that revenge never belongs to our own authority; it belongs to God! Don’t believe me, read Deuteronomy 32:32 and Romans 12:19, and try to convince me that we have the authority to take revenge. The authority of revenge belongs to God, because He is God and His wisdom and judgement go beyond our own comprehension! But on the subject of refinement, His intentions to have us suffer is not to be hurtful with it, nor would He want to see His creation suffer, but it’s to refine us! We can’t become stronger warriors with a fiery and tamed soul like Christ without going through some hardship and continuously holding onto being wronged. Forgiveness trains us to be warriors of righteousness and save the lost and stand with God. Part of saving the lost, is learning to forgive and even have patience.
The last thing that needs to be understood about forgiveness is if you want to start developing a desire to forgive, forgiveness starts small. A lot of people hate starting with the basics and we are so impatient and cocky to go to the advanced classes, but what a lot of people need to understand is that going to basics (or going back to basics) is a lot more beneficial than we think! What makes trees amazing to look at? The fact that it was once a seed and as time progressed it turned into something beautiful. Babies too, what makes children a wonder (and ourselves even) is the fact that one day you’ll see a child grow! Forgiveness starts small, and I don’t care if you’re the most mature, smartest, popular, liked, or whatever Christian, going back to basics and starting with basics is a benefit in a long run. C.S. Lewis once said (and this is me paraphrasing), “Forgiveness is like mathematics. You don’t start with Calculus. You start with addition and subtraction, multiplication and division. Likewise, you don’t forgive the Gestapo without learning to forgive your N.C.O.” Once you understand that, you have to ask yourself where do you start. Ask yourself questions like :who do I need to forgive today, do I even want to forgive, should I reconcile with (blank), and the most important question above all these questions is do I need forgiveness. Often, a lot of times the reason why I think a lot of us won’t forgive others is because we don’t think to be forgiven ourselves rather it be because of our own arrogance or because of holding onto guilt.
A wise man once told me that if I truly believe that Christ forgave me for my sins, then I must learn to let go of what he called the shard of glass of the past at the foot of the Cross. Too often, myself included, we try to justify our actions based on something that has happened in the past, and we wound ourselves more by holding onto the past when Christ saved us to move us forward into a better future. The past does not define one’s life, but life has been defined when we accepted God’s forgiveness. Therefore, we must learn and start forgiving others especially to those that have hurt us. The thing that pains me the most is when I see riots breaking out to justify being a victim of racial injustice and then to hear about cops being killed because of their profession. This breaks my heart along with the billion other things that America is suffering from. And when some liberal politician opens their mouth about forgiveness, they present a picture that’s not even forgiveness and make it look week or when I see a Christian lost in a storm of anger condemning when he or she needs to realize they too have sinned. My heart breaks over these kinds of things, and to not even pay attention about forgiveness is one that should break your heart even before you start saying in your heart amen. I hope hearts are broken because even when I did the notes and research for this topic, and even reflected on the many times I should’ve been more forgiving, my heart sank!
Forgiveness is a hard, and it’s not easy to commit to, but we can’t shut off the gas that lights a beautiful flame. However, the most beautiful thing I heard in regards to the recent events about racial injustice was last year when a church in Charleston lost members of their church because of the hate a young man had in his heart and the arrogance he was brought into (also, I used the picture from their memorial service to drive my point more). They were victims to racial injustice, but praise God for these brothers and sisters because instead of rioting and looting, they prayed for this young man even if he felt no shame in what he had done. They had every right to get mad and probably even condemn this young man, but they chose to put on their Armor of God and gave this horrible thing to the Lord. Around that same time, the group Black Lives Matter and a man who proclaimed to be a man of God chose a more destructive path and is still going on today! Yes, racism exists and yes it is a moral crime against God, but because of the past and the unwillingness to let go, we are in more greater danger day by day! There will come a day though when every person from every tongue and nation will come together and praise the Lord in perfect unity and in the light of a thousand lights; there’s nothing more beautiful than this. We need to experience forgiveness on a daily basis, and start learning to fight battles with the readiness to forgive. We are at war, but the good news is that in Christ, we are on the winning side.
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