Message by Rev. Erny McDonough
Ephesians 1:4-6 “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons though Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.”
There is nothing more healing for the emotions than forgiveness. You may be the offender and a source of pain for someone who was once close to you. you may be suffering pain inflicted by someone close to you. Either way, forgiveness can heal the hurt and bridge that distance.
God models the healing forgiveness He wants us to extend to each other. He bridged the distance to us through the sacrifice of His Son! Paul reminds us that God chose to forgive us for the pain our sins cause Him even before He created the earth!
You and I tend to have a nearsighted view of forgiveness. We simply see it as an action. God presents forgiveness as an act, a process, and a state.
I. Forgiveness Is An Action!
God’s forgiveness is an act of His Divine will. God chose to forgive us.
We sometimes deceive ourselves into believing an offense has been so painful and unfair that we cannot forgive. honesty requires us to admit that when we fail to forgive, it is not because we can not – it is because we will not! Forgiveness is a conscious and deliberate act of the will!
II. Forgiveness Is A Process!
When someone we have forgiven hurts us again, we sometimes retract the forgiveness we previously extended. We revive the anger and hostility we felt before we forgave them. It is as if our forgiveness is based on an agreement that they will never hurt us again.
Because we so often choose to retract our past forgiveness of others, it is easy for us to assume God also retracts the forgiveness previously extended to us when we offend Him yet again. God does not act that way!
Stop and consider what this means. When we assume God retracts His forgiveness, we place ourselves under the compounding burden of the sin we last confessed as well as the burden of our fresh offense. This unnecessary self-condemnation steals our peace and robs us of joy. God does not heap upon us the guilt of past forgiven offenses when we choose to do them again. This grace is difficult for us to grasp.
In Ephesians 4:32, Paul admonishes us to extend the same kind of forgiveness to each other that god has extended to us in Christ: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.”
God wants us to have the ability not only to forgive each other, but also to keep on forgiving each other for the past when new offenses arise. This is a very difficult, but very rewarding, challenge. Those who can forgive others as freely as they have been forgiven by our Lord are more likely to enjoy good mental health than those who allow others’ continued offenses to create bitterness in their lives.
III. Forgiveness And Trust Are Separate Issues!
Have you heard this line of reasoning? “If you have really forgiven me, you will trust me. Until you trust me again, I can not believe you have forgiven me.” This is an attempt at manipulation. Forgiving someone who has hurt you does not mean you should expose yourself to being hurt again.
Suppose I had my hand in a doorjamb while talking to someone and a “friend” decided to close the door on my hand as some kind of sick joke. Would the Lord require me to forgive the joker who closed the door on my hand? YES! Would the Lord require me to put my hand back in the door again? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
My spiritual obligation is to forgive. Whether I reinvest trust in the person who hurt me depends on that person’s behavior – not on mine! Only when he has responsibly changed his behavior am I obligated to trust him again. But, even if his behavior makes it impossible for me to trust him with my hand again, I must forgive him, for Christ’s sake – and mine!
IV. Forgiveness Frees Me From Anger And Pain!
People who can not grant forgiveness to those who have wronged them become crippled by their own overwhelming anger and hatred toward their offender. Of course, we naturally believe that clinging to our anger and hatred is the only way of defending ourselves from being hurt by close relationships in the future. But protecting ourselves from being deeply hurt again is like trying to cure our headache by cutting off our heads! There has to be a better way of getting that job done!
When I refuse to forgive those who have hurt me, I create three more potential sources of pain for myself. First, I have that nagging guilt that I am disobeying God’s Word. Second, the anger, hurt, resentment and bitterness rooted in the relationship continue to grow and fester in my own personal spirit. Third, I sentence myself to loneliness by refusing to trust another close relationship with anyone!
V. I Need To Forgive Myself!
It is easy for us to worship the idol of “the me that might have been“. All of us at times wonder what life might have been like had we not made Mistake A or Mistake B. If we are not careful, we can waste precious moments of life wishing we could undo some sin of our youth! Worshipping this idol will keep us from discovering “the me that can still be in Christ Jesus!”
When we make major blunders in life, things can never be like they might have been had we made wiser decisions. Yet, the future can still be bright for us if we forgive ourselves and put our lives back in the Lord’s hands!
The healing power of forgiveness can transform our lives. As we surrender our grievances against others to God, we find health. After all, no one can hurt us as much as our sins hurt Jesus, but He has chosen to forgive us!
Surrender the mistakes of your past to Jesus. He wants to help you forgive yourself and open up a great new future for you through the healing power of forgiveness.