When it comes to forgiveness, I talk a good game, thanks to my selective memory.
Yesterday I shared with others the heroics of my forgiving spirit and how God honored my graciousness in His time. While I was speaking about what God is able to do when we have a forgiving heart, I spoke too much about my graciousness in light of the hurt I endured.
There are other stories I could have told.
I could have rattled on about the times when I harbored deep grudges, nursed wounds beyond their expiration date, and gossiped about how I had been wronged.
Jesus handled the betrayals, denials, and physical blows against Him differently than me. Except for telling Judas to “Do it quickly,” He received the betrayals, denials, and blows against Him in silence.
Jesus never threatened His executioners with impending judgment; instead He forgave them. He accepted His suffering without bitterness. (1)
When we chatter on about past hurts and wrongs against us, we cannot boast about having forgiven the offender. As long we allow the hurt or offense to live in the present, we have not put it into the past.
Forgiveness involves the placing an offense against us into the past.
I remember the tenderness of being wounded by someone who refused to forgive me when I asked for forgiveness. A close friend tried to console me by saying, “Do not worry, they will forgive you eventually!”
It was the eventually which crushed my spirit.
How long would I need to wait to be forgiven? How long would I have to live on edge, teetering between the loving grasp of forgiveness and the rejection of un-forgiveness? How long would I need to earn brownie points before I could step away from egg-shell living?
I expect others to forgive me now and to do so with a grace that does not humble me.
As I move closer to Easter I anticipate celebrating God’s amazing, life-giving, death defying grace.
God is anticipating the same from me.
Jesus taught me to pray, “Forgive my debts as I forgive the debts of others!” (Matthew 6:12).
You cannot grasp the joy of Easter while holding fast to an unforgiving spirit.
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John MacArthur, Truth for Today : A Daily Touch of God’s Grace (Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman, 2001), 107.