I’d like to share another lesson I learned from Monday’s nonexistent-man-behind-a-jeep experience (read here): as long as I’m human, things like this, and other mistakes and sins, will happen.
Not only will I hurt and judge others, but others will hurt and judge me because they are human. It’s just part of life on this earth. We have an enemy who is quick to exploit our mistakes and sins and use them against us by getting us to beat ourselves up when we fail, and hold grudges against others when they fail.
How do we heal these hurts and bruises? Forgiveness.
Here is an excerpt from the Fear chapter in my new book, Intentional Warfare: Winning the Daily Spiritual Battles, about forgiveness. (Why is this in the fear chapter? Read the book to find out, release date November 24th!)
When we do get hurt, we have the opportunity to choose one of the greatest activators of God’s love: forgiveness. We can forgive those who hurt, persecute, lash out at, and betray us. We don’t have to feel like forgiving. We don’t have to tell the one we’re forgiving that we’ve done so unless God directs us to do so. Often we will still feel hurt or angry. Fully experiencing forgiveness—no more hurt or anger—is a process that takes time. It starts with our choice to forgive and continues to completion with ongoing choices to keep forgiving (Matthew 18:21-22).
Forgiving someone despite how we feel is not hypocritical; it’s obedient. Jesus commands us to forgive, and He never commands us to do something we cannot do. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can forgive as Jesus forgave us. Once we forgive, we can allow Jesus to love through us by choosing to be kind, gentle, and merciful.
Just as important as extending forgiveness to others is receiving Jesus’s forgiveness fully and deeply when we’ve repented and turned from our own sins. By faith, we can believe our righteousness is fully restored and we are made new, as John reminds us:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
We don’t need to fear punishment from Him even when we face consequences; He disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:4-6). We don’t need to beat ourselves up when we do something we “knew better” not to do. If we don’t receive His forgiveness when we confess—maybe we think we need to pay in some way because the sin was so bad—we are basically saying, “What you did, Jesus, is not good enough. I need to pay for my own sin.”
Sobering, isn’t it?
I don’t like to make the same type of mistakes over and over again…like jumping to quick judgment. I know – who does, right? Words like, “I know better,” “I should have waited before responding,” and “I can’t believe I did this again” shot into my mind…darts of shame sent to make me feel unworthy.
Instead of retreating behind a self-made wall, I humbled myself and apologized to my friend and my family. Yes, I agonized over my sins for a bit – still hurts that I could judge so wrongly. But then I chose to receive the forgiveness they extended. I chose to trust in their love and allow it into my heart. Instead of hard walls that take SO much energy to keep up – and believe me I know this from experience – I felt like a mushy puddle of peace…God’s peace, the peace that passes all understanding.
God’s presence invades forgiveness. In His glorious presence, the enemy has to flee.
Who do you need to forgive today? Whose forgiveness do you need to ask for or receive? Don’t let another day go by…just do it!