“When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals-one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’
And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.”
Luke 23:33-34, NIV
The last thing Jesus taught us was to forgive. He had been abused and rejected when He came to die in our place, yet He still chose to forgive. He could have forgiven us without a word, but Jesus chose to say it out loud. This was His final lesson to all who would learn from Him. The decision to forgive an offender does not begin with a feeling, nor is it dependent upon the offender asking for forgiveness. Forgiveness is not an option. Forgiveness is a mandatory choice every Christian must make in order to maintain a relationship with God.
In the model prayer (Luke 11:4) we are told to ask God to forgive us in proportion to the way we forgive those who have sinned against us. Matthew 6:14 goes even further by telling us that we will not be forgiven if we do not forgive those who have offended, hurt or abused us…whether we think they deserve forgiveness or not.
Forgiving the person who has offended us is a mandatory act that helps us shed the crippling burden of anger, bitterness or inadequacy. The inflicting wound that has caused the pain is the fault of the offender. The infection of bitterness or anger is the fault of the offended. Forgiveness cleans out the wound, then God heals the pain. The healing cannot take place without first, the forgiveness.
We must not confuse forgiveness with restoration of the relationship. Sometimes restoration is possible, but many times it is not even a wise decision. The ultimate purpose for choosing to forgive is for the restoration of the relationship with God. Lack of forgiveness, bitterness or anger blocks our ability to have a daily relationship with God.
QUESTION: When the topic of choosing to forgive is discussed, who comes to mind? What choices do you have?