“If another person sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.” (Luke 17:3b-4 NLT)
How does Jesus forgive? Think of the most insidious, demonic, vile, painful, horrific sin anyone could commit against you! Then ask yourself: “How could I ever forgive them?” The short answer is – you can’t! There are some things that are humanly impossible. But what is impossible for us is possible with God.
For some, it doesn’t take a second to bring something to mind, because they live with the horror of that remembrance every day. Why? Because there are some sins that we commit against one another that are inconceivable for us to even imagine, thus impossible to forget.
The truth is, what we, yes, what WE did to Jesus is far greater than anything we could ever do to one another. John Stott wrote: “Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us.”
Another consideration that is difficult, but with which we must come to grips, is this – you and I are capable of ANYTHING given the right set of circumstances.
Why is it so important that we understand these two truths? Because our tendency is to believe we’re better than we are, thus setting ourselves above those who commit sins of which we can’t conceive ourselves possible of committing. The other reason is, we underplay “our” sin, believing we’re a good “catch” for Jesus. Yes, of course, we’ve sinned, but not like __________, and you can fill in the blank. (i.e. murderers, rapists, child molesters, villains like Hitler, etc.).
That’s why forgiveness is so hard. We can’t envision ourselves ever doing to someone else what has been done to us. The fact is, we’ve done far worse when we nailed Jesus to the Cross and ignored His sacrifice as not needed by a good person like “me!” The same “goodness“ that prevents us from finding forgiveness from Jesus (because we don’t think we need it), is the same “goodness” that blocks the path of our forgiveness to those who sin against us.
Jesus forgives us COMPETELY! He casts our sin into the sea of forgetfulness NEVER to be remembered against us again. He doesn’t hold grudges. He doesn’t dig up past sins and hold them up in our face every time we come to Him – even far beyond four hundred and ninety times a day for the exact same thing! How can He do that? Because to Him, since He’s chosen to forget every sin, every time we ask, it’s as if we’re asking for the first time, every time.
Jesus forgives us REDEMPTIVELY! What does that mean? It means to Him our sin doesn’t disqualify us from future service. His blood “buys us back” from the pit of hell. He restores. He redeems, qualifies, and equips us to be whatever He has imagined we can become. Our sin doesn’t destroy His image of us, because He sees us through the lens of His holiness and perfection. He doesn’t focus on what we’ve done, but on what we can become, because of His sacrifice, and by His grace.
Yes, of course, what has happened to you is deeply regrettable, but by God’s grace and with His help you CAN forgive. What’s impossible for us is possible with God. Trust Him. Seek Him. Believe Him when He assures you that He will NEVER leave you or forsake you. You’re NOT ALONE in your pain. What happened to you isn’t your fault.
Forgiveness isn’t beneficial to the person that hurt you, it’s your lifeline to a new beginning. Please, for your sake, learn to forgive like Jesus.