ALL IS FORGIVEN
Ernest Hemingway told the story of a father who came to Madrid and placed an advertisement in a local newspaper. The message read: ‘Meet me at Hotel Montana noon Tuesday, all is forgiven.’ When the father arrived at the hotel, he found 800 young men waiting for their papa. The need for forgiveness is a strong drive in all of us. The great essence of the Christian faith is that God the Father is willing to forgive every human being of every wrong we’ve ever committed – if we’ll only ask for and accept it. Many people carry a heavy load of bitterness and heartbreak for years because they don’t feel able to forgive. Part of the reason is that they don’t feel forgiven themselves. As with anything else in life, we can’t give what we don’t have.
However, in Romans 5:5 it says ‘…God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.’ God’s forgiveness flows into our lives like water runs into a glass; but it is so rich in its supply that right over the edge, spilling out onto everything that surrounds it. God doesn’t have ‘just enough’ forgiveness; he has much more to give than we need to receive: his forgiveness is more than we need to clean our hearts and give us a fresh start. Once we have experienced his forgiveness, we find the love in our hearts so strong that it runs over, touching every thought and attitude, and every relationship. When impacted by God’s forgiveness, we can’t hold bitterness in our hearts and vengeance in our minds – we want to forgive, and for the first time we have the power to do it, once and for all.
Ephesians 4:32 ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’ (NIV)
We live in a wonderful yet often painful world. Nothing can totally isolate or insulate us from the disappointments and losses of life. Even good people sometimes experience bad things. In the midst of life’s struggles, we all accepts that forgiveness is a good idea. Forgiveness, said one writer, is God’s antidote for bitterness, wrath and anger. But actually acting on that idea is another thing: forgiving is not an easy thing to do. Before we can learn how to be better ‘forgivers’, we need to recognize what forgiveness is not. Forgiveness is not giving approval to what someone else did to you. Nor is it excusing someone else’s mistakes, or trivializing the offense, saying that it doesn’t really matter. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean saying that your feelings are of no importance and it doesn’t mean that you commit yourself to a relationship with that person in the future. Forgiveness is not naive. It does not say ‘I was not hurt, you did not hurt me.’ Forgiveness is very honest. Forgiveness is not easy because it seems to run against every natural human emotion, every natural response. Naturally speaking, we will try to defend ourselves or even to fight back. Forgiveness requires that we move past those basic instincts to something higher. We forgive not because we don’t feel hurt, or because we don’t have a right to feel offended. We forgive because it is the godly thing to do, and because God forgives us. No matter how great someone’s offense against you, your past offense against God is infinitely greater. And, thank God, he has forgiven you. Let that awesome power of forgiveness and release run through your heart, like a river running through a canyon, this is the key to finding lasting freedom, peace and closure.
Prayer: ‘Father God, thank you for forgiving every wrong I’ve ever done. I want to experience your forgiveness in such a potent way that I can’t help but forgive those who’ve hurt me. I release my hurt today, and accept the overflow of your forgiveness. Lord, I know that forgiveness is not easy, and it doesn’t feel natural. But I choose to forgive, to allow your releasing power to flow through my heart and mind today. I release others from their debt, because you did that for me. Help me to forgive.’