"I can never forgive them!"
All of us have been hurt in some capacity. It seems as though everyone has a story of someone hurting them so bad they feel as though forgiveness may never come. In fact, I've heard many stories where I wondered just how they could even think of forgiving that person.......that is, until I realized how forgiven I am.
When someone hurts us (and they will!), we often hold onto resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness in our heart towards them. But if we want to truly experience freedom and healing from these feelings, then it starts with us handing all of that over to Jesus, the ultimate example of forgiveness. Many of you know the story: Upon Him being nailed to a cross, spit at, mocked, beaten, and ridiculed, He responds with, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34) That is crazy!
I recently shared a story of myself (along with many friends in our neighborhood) dealing with sexual abuse by a pedophile in the late 70's. I would often look back with hate and anger when I think of this guy having the capability to do something so destructive. I share in the story of my mom's willingness to actually want to kill this man. Everyone was angry and we would all hold on to this for many many years. The holding on to it never helped, making me angry and making me question how something like this could happen. But what I learned later in my life was that true freedom can come to me (and you) when you choose to hand it over to Jesus. Sounds churchy, huh? But really, He is the ultimate judge and He will bring justice for everyone either at the cross or in eternity. In my effort of forgiving this guy, I had to look at a different angle: Just what happened to this person in his life where he is actually capable of doing something like this?
I am so excited for this Sunday at our church. My good friend, Jason Romano (pictured above with his Emmy, not mine) will be speaking on this topic of forgiveness. This is a guy who left a successful job at ESPN to go into ministry and serve God. I've heard so many people struggle with forgiveness and too many that are not even aware they struggle, "I FORGIVE THEM!!" Doesn't sound like it with that tone.
If you are in Christ, then Jesus has forgiven you of your sins – past, present, and future – and He no longer holds them against you (Hebrews 10:17). Amazing! As followers of Christ, we should give people the same grace when they sin against us. This does not mean that we pretend like it didn’t happen. We still have to use wisdom and discernment as not provide people an opportunity to repetitively sin against us. We can, in fact, love from afar.
Holding a grudge against someone will only end up hurting you more. It's been said, "Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die."
Join us this Sunday at Fellowship Church 9:00 and 10:30 to hear from Jason regarding this topic. His story is amazing. Because of our friendship, I knew a bit of the story, but when I read his book, Live to Forgive, I was shocked at just how much pain he had to endure and how amazing his faith was in taking him out of this unforgiving pit.