Many times I have been guilty of believing that I am weak. This is because I respond to personal attacks and insults far differently than anyone I know. When others put themselves first, I am always left feeling guilty or questioning myself. I tend to second guess my responses numerous times after occurrences have past. I argue with myself internally and ask; Why can’t I be like them?, Why can’t I respond the way they would?, Why can I not give the nastiness back? Well, it’s because I am me. God created me to be different!
While I may at times want to respond the way others would when I am faced with disrespect, in my heart I know that I can’t.
We are called to forgive like Jesus, but again what does that mean?
Forgiving like Jesus means to forgive EVERYTHING and EVERYONE. It means forgiving all the time no matter who or what the situation or circumstances are.
Now, hold on a second. What about extreme situations such as murder, rape, child molestation? How on earth can we forgive those offenses? Only through strength that the Lord provides us with and even then, it may be the hardest thing we will ever have to do. And God loves us so much that he leaves it as our choice to do. He will never force us to follow him.
There are those who will say no way, never would I forgive such an offense. And I can understand that response, because that type of forgiveness is unimaginable. But with God, I know it has been possible for some.
Jesus taught that we are to forgive others just as he forgives us. He never placed a limitation on what or who should be forgiven.
Jesus was the ultimate mercy seat for every single one of us. He gave his life for all. So if we are to be like him, we too must extend mercy and grace to all who offend us. He never told us it would be easy, but he did tell us to go to God in prayer and ask him to forgive us just as we forgive those who sin against us (Matthew 6:12).
In this same chapter in the book of Matthew, Jesus told his people that their sins will not be forgiven by the father if they don’t forgive others:
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” - Matthew 6:14-15 NLT
Another version of the Bible explains it this way:
“In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.” - Matthew 6:14-15 MSG
So we are called to live by grace and extend mercy to all, always. Otherwise, we ourselves will not be forgiven for our sins.
In Matthew 18:21-22, the Apostle Peter questioned Jesus on this very thing.
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Jesus is saying here that we must forgive over and over, continuously. Through our own strength we can’t do this. But the strength of the Lord will cover us in our weakness if we call upon his name and ask him to help us.
If you’re like me, striving not to meet others with the same disrespect they do to you, know that you are not weak. You are actually the opposite, you are strong. Take pride in this strength and continue to ask the Lord to help you continue to practice it over and over again if needed. For anyone can be reactive, but being like Jesus means forgiving and showing mercy, grace and strength. Do your best to not act out of your character, but rather continue to show the strength of the Lord at all times and in all things.
If a time comes when you fall short of this, don’t beat yourself up, repent and ask the Lord for forgiveness and then surrender the hurt and anger to the Lord and forgive your offender anyway.
God is showing me that as followers of Christ, we should always strive for peace. For when we do, rewards await us in Heaven.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” - Matthew 5:9, 11-12 NIV
Father God, We thank you and we Honor you for always forgiving us no matter what we do or how much we continue to do it. Jesus, you gave your life for us and you continue to chase us with unrelenting love no matter how many times we mess up. We know that in this world we will have trials and tribulations, but we know that you are right there with us giving us the strength we need to get through. Lord we ask that you would continue to strengthen us during these difficult times and change our hearts to be more like yours so that we may be able to offer forgiveness to those who hurt or offend us. May we be wise and guard our hearts, but may we also be reminded to forgive those that offend or hurt us. Father God our flesh is weak, but we submit ourselves to you and ask that you would lead us and guide us so that we will walk in your purpose for our lives and ultimately love others as you love us. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Growing with you,
Please watch these video stories below from Mathew West. I pray they show you that even in the most devastating circumstances, forgiveness through the Lord’s strength is possible.