Is Forgiveness In Your Future?

Jen’s Gem: Forgive and be set free.

The other day, I saw an old post in my social media feed that referenced a performance review. If you’re not acquainted with these, they are in essence a report card in the corporate world. In the beginning of the year, a myriad of goals and objectives are set and just before the holidays, you are either given a gold star or a “thanks for playing” comment and sent on your way.

Throughout my long corporate career, I’ve had more performance reviews than I can count. Each was prefaced with trepidation, which for the most part was unfounded. I was always a hard worker, going above and beyond what my manager required in the hopes of a raise or a coveted promotion.
 
As I thought about the many reviews I’ve had over the years, I was spiritually nudged to think about the managers who provided them. Some brought a feeling of joy as I remembered them fondly. Others, not so much. It was these “others” that I was asked to forgive.
 
Forgive. That’s a tough word sometimes, don’t you think? We struggle with this action as we have the perception that it’s a “get out of jail free” card for the person who hurt us. If we forgive someone, it’s basically stating that what they did to us was acceptable behavior and they’re off the hook.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

 


 
Forgiving someone doesn’t get them out of jail, it gets us out of jail. It removes the shackles of anger, hurt, betrayal, and possibly hatred that have bound us for countless years. It’s not the other person who is set free, it is us.
 
Over the years, I’ve had many people I’ve had to forgive, including myself. For some of the bigger hurts, I’ve had to rinse and repeat this process until the thought of them no longer held me captive or conjured up ill-will. Turns out, Jesus knew this would happen.
 
When He was asked about forgiveness by his disciple Peter, His response was pretty shocking.
 
“Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times? Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22 (NKJV)
 
Whoa! Nearly 500 times we are told to forgive. Jesus knew how hard forgiveness would be for us. He also knew the joy and freedom true forgiveness brings and He wanted to help us do it.  Without His help, forgiveness is impossible.  We can’t “will” ourselves to forgive those who have hurt us. We need help – and for those big hurts? We need major help.
 
That’s where the grace of God comes in. If we call upon Him and ask for help to forgive, He will gladly dole out the grace to do so. That’s how God rolls. He doesn’t command us to do things and then leave us to figure them out on our own. He gives us everything we need.
 
I believe one of the main reasons people find forgiveness so difficult, is that they try to do it all by themselves. It’s an unachievable goal. Broken hearts and deep-seated memories will prevent any human being from forgiving especially if wounds are deep.
 
Jesus left us with one commandment – To love each other as He loves us. That’s a big love. We may feel this type of love towards our friends and family, but to those who’ve wronged us? Yikes! Surely Jesus didn’t mean we had to love THOSE people. Spoiler. Yep, He sure did.


 
As Jesus took His last breath, His final words were all about love and forgiveness. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
 
“They know not what they do.” People who have hurt us may be clueless about their actions. They may be so broken inside that they just want to lash out and have others feel as badly as they do. In short, their actions or words may have nothing to do with us and everything to do with them. When we can separate the action from the person, forgiveness becomes a bit easier.
 
I would like to encourage you this week to make a list of those people who’ve hurt you in some way. Ask God to help you forgive them. As you begin to cross names off of your list, you’ll get a taste of the freedom that forgiveness offers.

Then “seventy times seven” will be a goal that both you and God can achieve together.

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