True Forgiveness

"The disciples were called 'Christians' first at Antioch" (~Acts 11:26~), and we have worn that name since the 1st Century.  Jesus said, "As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (~John 13:35~) I think one of the hardest things about loving one another is the willingness, like Jesus, to forgive one another - especially when we feel like they have wronged us. Even when he was being crucified, Jesus prayed that the Father would forgive those who were responsible.

God's will for us is that we will not sin, but if we do sin we have an advocate that intercedes for us. As those who wear the name of Jesus, we understand the power of true forgiveness.  Unlike Jesus, I can't forgive those who persecute me from a position of pure righteousness.  But I don't believe that is what Jesus was referring to.  Our forgiveness must come from a place of one sinner to another.  That's where the love for one another comes in. We must offer forgiveness and a pathway to mend the relationship out of our love for others.

How willing are you to forgive others when they hurt you?  Think about anyone you have been unwilling to forgive (c'mon you know you have someone...). Do not minimize what they have done.  Instead, think of what Jesus has done for you.  You don't have to do it yourself; pray for them, ask God to help you release them from their debt.  Remember, in the Model Prayer (also called the Lord's Prayer) Jesus prayed, "And forgive us our sins, just as we also have forgiven those who sin against us" (~Matt. 6:12~).  That is a challenging thing to do, if we are honest with ourselves.

In a recent article, Michael Youssef, Ph.D. suggested a prayer of forgiveness that we might emulate: "Lord, Your forgiveness in my life is a miracle.  Transform my heart to demonstrate Your forgiveness to those who have wronged me.  I release them to You and ask that You heal the wounds I may have received from their actions.  I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen."