Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today- March 28, 2011
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32, NKJV
Forgiven people forgive, because they are eternally grateful for the grace of God’s forgiveness in their heart. They are keenly aware that outside of Christ, they are cursed to a cycle of unforgiveness—lost in their sins. Thus, the Lord raised them up forgiven, so then they in turn can forgive. Forgiveness on earth flows from forgiveness in heaven. It is something to be passed on today, not to be stored away for some unique future occasion.
Unforgiveness encroaches on the health of our relationships. Its cancerous affect eats away at our enjoyment of God, family and friends. Suddenly, without advance notice, we lash out at those we love—because of someone we don’t love. Unforgiveness, like an inactive but rumbling volcano, waits to explode at any moment of disappointment. The embroiled embers smolder like sin and will erupt when pressure shakes its foundation.
Do you hold a grudge that has a hold of you? Does resentment hang over you like a bad dream, only you never wake up? This level of emotional upheaval is no way to live for the Lord. His will is not for you to be preoccupied with people who have stolen your joy and hindered your fellowship with Jesus. Forgiveness frees you from the bitter taste of bitterness and replaces it with the sweet taste of grace. Thus, forgive as you have been forgiven.
True forgiveness is sincere and all-inclusive. We are not in the position to judge who deserves forgiveness and who does not deserve forgiveness. One test is to ask if you are tender hearted or hard hearted toward another. A hard heart has yet to be broken by heaven’s caring crush, it may take extended adversity to soften your heart to forgive.
Why wait in anxious resentment when you can be freed today from hatred and relational apathy? Moreover, make your forgiveness specific. Communicate clearly when you are forgiving an exact amount of money that they are no longer in debt to you. Did a relative abuse you as a child? Were you fired over office politics? Talk with them—if they have abandoned you or are dead, write a letter expressing Christ’s love and your forgiveness.
What if you forgive someone and they are unresponsive and unrepentant? You cannot control another’s response, only yours. Trust that the Lord is working in their hearts and that your humble and sincere example will begin a work of grace in their heart. Love and kindness tear down walls of anger—grace and forgiveness build bridges of hope. Satan’s destructive deception is exposed and destroyed in the face of your forgiveness:
“And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:10b-11).
Who needs my total forgiveness? What is the best method for me to forgive them?
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