Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me, and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.
This week we are going to look back at our inventory and learn how to repair the damage we have seen in our relationships. Whether the damage was what we have done to others or what others have done to us, there is one way to repair—through forgiveness.
There are three reasons the book discusses why we should forgive others.
- Because God has forgiven you
- Because resentment doesn’t work
- Because you’ll need forgiveness in the future
Because God has forgiven you - Have you truly accepted God’s forgiveness? I know for so long I felt I was not worthy of His forgiveness. Have you accepted that Jesus’ death on the cross paid for all our sins? John 19:30 states Jesus exclaimed from the cross, “It is finished.” No matter what our sin or how badly we have hurt others, God’s grace is sufficient to forgive completely. Remember the woman who entered Simon’s home while he was having dinner with Jesus? She took an alabaster box of oil, washed His feet with her tears and anointed His feet with the oil. When Simon criticized her, Jesus told him, “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to who little is forgiven, the same loves little” (Luke 7:47). Jesus then told her that her sins were forgiven and that her faith had saved her. This woman knew her sins were great, but also knew the greatness of God’s mercy. She had accepted His forgiveness and been set free.
Because resentment doesn’t work – This second reason to forgive is all about letting go. Let go of the pain of the past hurts from others. If you hold onto those hurts or resentments, they will hold you prisoner. When you release them, you are free…the doors open and you walk out.
- Resentment is unreasonable: Resentment can build up into anger. When we are angry, the only person hurting is ourselves. We lose sleep, we don’t eat, we overeat, we start becoming more tempted by the addictions that God had removed and we snap out at those around us whom we love. Let Go and Let God!!
- Resentment is unhelpful: Can all that we are holding onto really help anything now or in the future? When we become stressed, it affects all our life—our work, our home, our friends, our loved ones. Let Go and Let God!!
- Resentment is unhealthy: The book likened resentment to cancer. When I read that I went back to when I received the call I had cancer. I had dropped 30 pounds in 30 days and could barely walk. After many tests, they had diagnosed me with stage 3 cancer. That call knocked my feet out from under me. If resentment is like that I want it to be taken from me, just as God healed me of cancer.
Because you will need forgiveness in the future – There have been and will always be days when we are going to need God’s or someone else’s forgiveness. When the book stated ‘you cannot receive what you do not give,’ that one statement hit home for me. If I do not forgive other’s I will not receive forgiveness. So wait, if I do not forgive, I will not receive my Father’s forgiveness. That is a hard one! But when you look at it, like all other areas of our lives, we need to take that first step. If there were 1,000 steps, then yes, God will take the 999 others to get to us, but we have got to take that first step. To receive salvation, we had to ask. To receive baptism, we had to believe. To receive healing, we have to believe. So to receive forgiveness, we have to forgive.
In my walk out of the alternative lifestyle, I did my inventory and made amends with many people. You see, as others are making their inventory of how others hurt them, mine was on the other side. I did much of the hurting. My choices destroyed my relationships with family and friends. My choices destroyed four marriages, including my own. I broke off an engagement at the age of 19, left my husband later at the age of 27, lost custody of my oldest son ( he was 3) at the age of 28…see where I am going? Although there were those that did hurt me, my laundry list was long. So the forgiveness I longed for was much greater than any I had to give.
My asking for forgiveness from others was the first, and I had to admit, the easiest. Sure, there were those that hurt me and I did forgive them, but the hardest parts of forgiveness for me were to accept God’s forgiveness and to forgive myself. The guilt of my choices was really deep. I had a difficult time accepting that God had forgiven me. Through years of destroying relationships with my parents, siblings, friends, ruining marriages—anyone who tried to care was quickly tossed to the side. After all of the hurt I had caused, how could God forgive me? I was not worthy; I did not deserve His mercy.
Exactly! Mercy is undeserved merit. Mercy is not earned, He freely gives it. We serve an amazingly compassionate God. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” Hebrews 4:15-16.
His life on earth, death on the cross and resurrection to the right hand of the Father is the reason we receive His mercy for our past and grace for our future. I had to step up to His throne and boldly receive His forgiveness. It took some time for me to realize He died for me too. When He said, “It is finished,” He meant for me, too. If you are having a hard time accepting God’s forgiveness, try this. Put your name in front or behind that statement Jesus made. ”________, it is finished.”
Once I received God’s forgiveness, He began nurturing me to forgive myself. Jesus wants an intimate relationship with us. He wants us to bring all our burdens, hurts, guilt, and shame to Him. I love The Living Bible translation of this verse, it make this so personal. “Come, let’s talk this over! Says the Lord; no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you white as wool! If you will only let Me help you” Isaiah 1:18-19. ‘Come, let’s talk’–-I can visualize Jesus saying–’grab your coffee, let’s talk.’ He made the heavens and the earth (in six days), He set the stars perfectly in the sky, He walked me out of the gay lifestyle. He healed my cancer. He gave me two miracles through my sons. He put joy in my life through my brother. He gave me amazing family and friends and He has allowed me to share His testimony of my life with all of you. How can I not listen and accept His forgiveness? I urge each one of you to step boldly before His throne. Take that one step and He will take the 999.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Father, we are so grateful to be able to talk with You. To spend time with You. Help us to take that one step toward forgiveness. We admit there are times when it is hard, Lord, to forgive others, ourselves, or to accept Your forgiveness. Help us to trust You when You say there is no condemnation, and that You will turn our sins as white as snow. Father, You cannot lie and Your word says there is NO condemnation—we believe and receive that today. Help us to walk in that, Lord, and be able to forgive and let go of any resentments we are holding onto.
Lord, as we go through this week, guide us to those we need to make amends with—let us talk when we need to and be quiet when we need to. Open our hearts to hear from You and give us the strength and courage we need to take this step. Heal our hearts from the hurts, Lord. We love You, Father. We give all the glory and honor to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
When we are talking of forgiveness, which is hardest: Forgiving others? Accepting God’s forgiveness? Or forgiving yourself? (You can also go to our private Facebook page and share there, as well.)
If you would like to send a private message to Laurie in regards to this blog, please email her at Laurie@girlfriendscoffeehour.com