I have what I need to not only be who God has called me to be but to carry out his will and purpose for my life because God has enabled me to do so by the power of his Spirit. That is one way to think about the meaning of the word empowered; God has made available to each of us all that we need for life and for godliness. In thinking about the concept of empowered, have you ever thought of forgiveness as a tool of or precursor to empowerment in your life? This was the topic of discussion in our small group today. While forgiveness as well as its significance is clearly addressed in the Scripture in many instances and on multiple occasions, it does not seem that it is an issue addressed on a regular basis in body of Christ. As a consequence, both its necessity and reality seem to ever live on the periphery of the main message of the church today. But it should not, because even when it is pushed to the side its presence, or absence, greatly impacts our hearts including the quality of our lives.
First, forgiveness is not something we deserve, but it is something we owe. From Ephesians 4:34 we learn God’s heart for the working of this virtue in our lives. It says, “Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (New Living Translation) Moreover, and in the same version it states, “Make allowance for each other’s faults. And forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”(Colossians 3:13) Still, Romans 5:8 says, ” But God demonstrated his own love for us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.” These verses on the forgiving heart and nature of God do not even scratch the surface. God is a forgiving God. It is through forgiveness that we come to know God. We might even think of forgiveness as God’s mission of love to redeem lost humanity. John 3:16 and 17 tells us that God loved this world so much that he gave his one and only Son. That any who believes in him will not suffer eternal loss but have everlasting life. From the following verse we learn that God did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Think about it. We have all in one way or another rebelled against God, but in the midst of our wrong doing, God did not come after us, he came for us. He came to express the depth of his love, to set us free, to make us whole, to restore each of us back into fellowship and right relationship with himself. He provided forgiveness, even when no one deserved it. And he never asks us to do anything that he has not been willing to do first. I agree that forgiveness is not easy. The person or persons who offended us may not even deserve it. But as believers, it should help, at leas some, to remember that forgiveness is not something any of us deserve, yet because of what Christ has done for you and me, it is something we owe. It is not only something God requires, it is something he commands.
One of the questions I pondered this week while preparing of our group discussion is, “Why is forgiveness so important?” These are some of the answers that came to me.
- As stated before, forgiveness is God’s mission of love to this earth in the person of Jesus Christ, and he did not come to condemn us or send us to hell. Instead he came to heal us, to set us free and reconcile us to himself.
- It is through forgiveness that we come to know God and his nature including the act and condition of forgiveness.
- It is through our reception to the forgiveness offered by God that the Holy Spirit comes to reside in each of us.
- Exercising forgiveness allows God to be fully himself in the recesses of our hearts and in the context of our lives.
- Unforgiveness is a state that stands in stark contradiction to the nature, will and purpose of God because it is on the basis of forgiveness, opposite of the afore mentioned, that God has dealt with each one of us.
- Unforgiveness creates a dynamic of toxicity in the life of the believer, forgiveness a conditon of peace.
- Unforgiveness hinders the process of growing in the image and likeness of Christ, consequently, in some ways, it makes it impossible to live out the fullness of God’s plan in any aspect of our lives.
- Jesus is our example. And the mission of Jesus was one of forgiveness.
- Forgiveness is something God wants to accomplish in us for the purpose of expressing it through us. Further, he wants to express it through us for the purpose of accomplishing it in us.
- There is a positive correlation between the level of forgiveness in our hearts and our ability to express love in our lives. Jesus said to the Pharisee who criticized him for allowing a sinful woman to anoint his feet, thereby preparing his body for burial,” I tell you, her sins-and they are many-have been forgiven, so that she has shown me much love, but a person who is forgiven little, shows little love. (Luke 7:47) Ironically, there is not an individual who walks the planet that does not need a great deal of forgiveness, the difference between this woman the Pharisee, as with certain individuals today, some realize their great need for God’s forgiving grace while others simply do not.
When we begin to understand the magnitude and significance of the concept of forgiveness and how God has intended it to work in our hearts, in our minds and in our lives, it will transform our receptivity to it as well as our willingness to extend it to others. Forgiveness promotes the spreading of God’s grace and love in the recesses of our hearts and in manifestation of our daily lives. Forgiveness changes us. It sets us free. It empowers us to be who God has called us to be and to do all that God has called us to do. It is a commandment of God because when it is allowed its proper place in our lives, it becomes a tool of God’s enabling power. He commands it not because he wants to control us, or make life difficult. He commands it because he loves us, and in the end forgiveness results in life, health, freedom, peace, vitality and love.
Have a blessed week,