“Forgiveness should change the way we remember.” Henri Nouwen
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
It’s great to be forgiven when we have wronged someone! What a relief! But often how hard it is to forgive someone who has wronged us. Why is that? Could it be that we feel deserving of forgiveness, but feel those who wronged us are undeserving? Believe me, I had to ask myself this question before I ever asked you. When I look back at those who have wronged me and ask myself if they deserve to have my forgiveness, my first reaction is to look at the offense. But that is not what God does with me. He looks at me. He sees me. And out of His great love for me, He forgives me when I ask to be forgiven. Then shouldn’t that be how I forgive? Shouldn’t I look at the person instead of the offense? When I make a conscious choice to see another person as one of God’s created beings, I can see that we are all the same in God’s sight. He loves each and every one of us so much that He is delighted when we humble ourselves and ask for His forgiveness. It blesses His heart when we desire a restored relationship with Him. So, doesn’t it stand to reason that it also blesses His heart when His children choose to forgive one another and live in a right relationship with one another?
I am going to try to remember this the next time I am offended. I’m going to look at the offending party and try my best to see them as myself - a child of a loving Father who demonstrates forgiveness for me on a daily basis; and see a Savior who paid the ultimate price for my forgiveness by shedding His own blood for me on a cruel, excruciating, and humiliating cross. I know that I will never be asked to forgive more than I have been forgiven. Out of my great love for God, I will choose to love and forgive those He loves and forgives. In other words, EVERYONE!
No, we won’t all be BFFs. But we can all choose to love, forgive, and live at peace with one another. If there is someone you need to forgive, do it today. It will make God smile, and it will free you from carrying the weight of unforgiveness. As Henri Nouwen said, “Forgiveness changes the way we remember.” What a true statement. We don’t have the human capacity to erase from our memory banks the hurt we have experienced, but forgiving the one who has offended us will change our physical and emotional response when something triggers the memory of it.
It’s amazing when we do what God asks us to do it always benefits us the most!