It’s been 8 months since I’ve written anything. Life gets in the way, sometimes, if we allow it.
I received an excellent daily devotion book for Christmas, called Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado. Today he had Ephesians 4:32 as the verse for the day. “Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.”
Each morning, I sit on my couch with my coffee, my devotional, my Bible, and my dogs…. one dog on my lap and one stretched out against my side. Reading this verse, I was reflecting on how Jesus forgave Judas for betraying Him. He forgave His disciples for deserting Him when the soldiers arrested Him. He forgave the authorities for unjustly accusing Him and for unjustly convicting Him. He forgave the soldiers for beating Him and for nailing Him to the cross. Most importantly for me, He forgave us – He forgave ME – for our sins, if we just ask Him to.
I sincerely believe that God gave us dogs because He knew that most of us would have trouble understanding forgiveness. You can hit a dog, kick a dog, neglect them, and they will forgive you. There are exceptions, of course, but I have seen dogs who have been starved and beaten crawl back to their owner, forgiveness in their eyes and their attitudes. As much as my dogs annoy me at times, their unerring and unlimited adoration shows me on a tiny, tiny scale how much my God loves me, and how much He forgives me. (Yes, I know I’m weird!)
Why is it so difficult for me to forgive the men (and women) who have hurt me? My selfish nature wants revenge on them. God wants my forgiveness on them. The words of the prayer Jesus taught us pops into my head, usually when I am thinking of revenge: “… For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:14-15 NASB1995
Want forgiveness? Truly, for ourselves, all we have to do is surrender ourselves to Christ, and allow the Holy Spirit into our life. I think it’s the depth of forgiveness that Jesus is referring to. It doesn’t affect our salvation. Jesus forgives once, and it’s a done deal. He took our sins onto Himself as He hung on the cross, and that is when (and where) He forgave us. If I accept Jesus as my Savior, even if I never forgive anyone who ever hurt me in any way – perceived or real, emotional or mental or physical – as a child of Christ, I’m still forgiven. What that would mean for me when I got to heaven, I honestly can’t say. Are there lesser parts of heaven for people who have resentment and forgiveness in their hearts? I guess we’ll find out when we get there!
Meanwhile, I intend to follow my dogs example – and Christ’s command! – and work on my forgiveness to others. With the help and support of the Holy Spirit, that is. I can’t do it on my own!