Forgive? You Don’t Know What’s Been Done!
By Dennis Huebshman
Part of the prayer the Savior gave to his disciples says, “Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Now for a moment of reflection, when you say this prayer, are you sincerely asking Him to forgive those who have wronged you, or are you just repeating words? If you don’t sincerely mean for the Lord to forgive others, then you are giving “vain repetition” according to Jesus. His point was, if we seek His forgiveness for what we’ve done, we should be expected to forgive others as well.
This does not mean we have to accept what has been done to us, neither does it mean we have to trust the wrongdoer again. It means we take what was done, turn it over completely to the Father, and then move on with our lives without any form of hate within us. Otherwise, that would leave an opening for satan to get into our lives and eventually pull us away from the Lord. We are to love all our brothers and sisters. Not in a sensuous way, but love each other as a “soul-bearing” person created by the Father. One can love someone, but not really like them as Jesus showed with the religious leaders of his days on earth. He loved them all the way to the cross, but did not like what they did.
Peter tried to show generosity in Matthew 18:21-22 by asking the Lord if he should forgive someone up to 7 times. Jesus let him know how insignificant this would be by saying, “Not 7 times, but 70 times 7!”
Remember, we’ve all sinned and continue to fall short (Romans 3:23), and if the Father set a limit on ay of us, no one could be saved. Jesus was not literally saying 490 times, but forgive without keeping count as God does for us. For myself, I would have reached my limit way before I turned 20, and the rest of my 50+ years would just be adding coal to the fires of torment that would be waiting for me.
Jesus gave us the two greatest commands in Luke 10:27 – Love God, Love each other (paraphrased). God loves everyone in His creation, but many times doesn’t like them. Think of when He destroyed the world except for Noah and his family; Sodom and Gomorrah except for Lot and his family. Just think, God would have spared Sodom if there had only been 10 righteous souls there. God will give every opportunity for us to come to Him if only we would try (2 Peter 3:9). He stands ready to forgive us of our transgressions no matter how great or small if we accept His Son, and then when we slip and fall, He will forgive us when we ask. (1 John 1: 8-10).
It’s not our lot in life to judge anyone else’s soul. However, we are to judge actions. When Matthew 7:2 says, “Judge not”, we’re being told that’s God’s job to judge others whose souls He has created. If their actions are sinful, we are to avoid joining in those actions, and Paul said if they won’t change we are to avoid them. (2 Timothy 2:22-23; 3:5) Still, we are not to have hate in our hearts toward anyone, even those who offend us. Some actions of others can be so severe toward us that we cannot give the forgiveness without the help of the Father. We ask Him for the strength to forgive, and ask Him to remove the hurt from us. God knows it’s difficult and knows our weaknesses, but James said we have not because we ask not. (James 4:2) When asking, truly look to Him for strength, and not just repeat words.
All sin to the Father is unacceptable, no matter how great or small as I mentioned earlier. He is the one who provided a pathway for forgiveness through the shedding of His Son’s blood for us. That blood, and our acceptance of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice is the ONLY thing that keeps us from the Father’s Wrath.
While He was on the cross, Jesus provided us the best illustration of forgiveness when He asked God to forgive those who were killing Him. There is no way I could ever believe He liked what they were doing, but He was looking forward to the future. He left a pathway for ALL who persecuted Him, so they could be saved if they later repented and accepted Him. He knew no one could be saved except through Him (John 14:6). Just try to imagine on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit arrived how many in the crowd may have been at the crucifixion and maybe were even active participants. Remember Paul in the prison at Philippi and the jailer that watched over the prisoners was saved along with his whole family. This is forgiveness in action. Stephen asked for forgiveness for those who were stoning him to be forgiven.
Each and everyone of us has possibly faced situations where we could not reasonably see out way clear to get past someone else’s actions. It may be that we do not have contact with that person anymore, and may never see them again. To have real peace, we really need to get it out into the open with the Father and find a way to get past it. Satan loves to keep such things on our minds to deter our walk with the Lord.
One method I have given in the past is the “empty chair”. Find a time when you won’t be interrupted and go into a room with an empty chair. Imagine the person that wronged you is in that chair and tell them very plainly how you believe they have hurt you. Then, do not leave the room until you tell them you forgive them, and ask for their forgiveness for anything you may have done to cause the problem. It won’t be an automatic relief, but it will put you on the right path to clear any offenses from your mind. Anytime a thought about this comes back, immediately turn it over to the Father. You will eventually gain a peace that you took what action you could, and that God is in complete control.
There is only one sin we can commit that will not be forgiven. That is to reject Jesus as our Savior. All else, God is ready to forgive if we have accepted Jesus and His sacrifice for us. It stands to reason that God loves His Son which is a part of Himself. For anyone to reject the Son, they are rejecting God and the Holy Spirit, and at the White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20: 11-15) will have to answer for each and every transgression they ever committed.
For true believers that have accepted Jesus, we may still receive discipline for our wrongful actions, but overall, the sin is forgiven, and we will go through the Judgment Seat of Christ. (1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:9 and Romans 5:9) This is a judgment for all who have accepted the Lord to receive rewards, not punishment. No true believer will ever have to face the Lake of Fire.
Knowing just how imperfect I am, and knowing I could never satisfy the Father with any type of sacrifice I could ever make, tells me in no uncertain terms I have made the right decision to ask Jesus into my life. He fully has taken all my sin and cleansed me with His precious shed blood. He did this over 2000 years before I was even here. My cost was to say, “Thank you My Jesus, for loving me and taking my sins away. Please always be My Savior and when I leave this earth, please give me a home with You.”
He has promised He has prepared a place for me and ALL who have accepted Him (John 14: 2-3). That’s it! Paid in full and given to us as a gift if we will but receive the gift and open it. Sad part, Jesus knows there will be more that reject Him than receive Him. Don’t be one of them. No matter what this earthly life may offer, it will never compare to an eternity with the Savior or the alternative an eternity away from Him in constant torment.
Call on Him today. There may not be another opportunity as the time is getting short for Him to call His Church home.