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By Jamee Rae Pineda and Sherry Colby –
You can’t pick and choose who to forgive, or how much of an offense you’ll let go of, or for how long. God doesn’t allow you to have any limits on forgiveness. For those who are justice oriented, it doesn’t seem fair that guilty people are let off the hook. But as Christians, we are asked to look at forgiveness from God’s perspective.
Was it fair that the only begotten Son of God died on a cross so that you could be forgiven for your addictions, your negative behaviors, your bad attitudes, and all the other sinful acts you’ve ever done or will do?
The blood of Jesus covered every ugly deed you’ve done and every evil word that has come out of your mouth. When Jesus agreed to die for the sins of the world, He didn’t pick and choose who would be on His forgiveness list, nor did He offer partial forgiveness for a select few people He considered worse or better than others. In fact, Jesus died for people who don’t even care that He died or who mock the whole concept of Christianity.
Christians are instructed to operate with the mind of Christ. Therefore, you are expected to forgive the way Jesus forgave—without any restrictions and regardless of people’s guilt or innocence. (This includes forgiving yourself!)
You may find that many people you forgive won’t even admit they’ve hurt you, or minimize your suffering at their hands. Some people don’t care if they hurt you, or they think you deserved it. Others will be offended when they find out you carried bitterness or anger towards them.
None of that is your concern. God makes you accountable for your actions, and He deals with others when and how He chooses to.
When you refuse to forgive, you have become a vigilante because you’re taking God’s moral law into your own hands. The fact that you feel compelled to make someone pay for their actions proves that you don’t think God’s penal system is sufficient.
Consider the movies that promote vigilantes. If you have watched Dirty Harry or The Terminator, you most likely rooted for the vigilante characters because they were making up for a corrupt or weakened legal system.
If you love justice, these kinds of movies will satisfy your desire that life be fair. But the problem with vigilante justice in the kingdom of God is that it goes against scripture. The question is, would you rather be right or righteous before God.
If you insist on being right, you will hold people accountable for their actions, and many people will agree that you are justified in doing so. At the same time, this gives God the right to hold you accountable for your wrongs. Matthew 6:14,15 makes this point:
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
How many times have you gone to the cross and received forgiveness? How often do you rely on God’s grace and mercy? You probably can’t put a number on it. Do you see why you have no right to impart your humanistic version of moral justice?
Forgiveness Results in Freedom
No doubt forgiveness is a process that you must initiate, commit to and continue in. But don’t think that forgiveness will allow you to change the past. Instead, it will free you to live in the present.
One summer we had t-shirts made with the inscription, “No Matter How Hard I Try, I Can’t Make a Better Yesterday.” The back of the t-shirts cited Philippians 3:13: “…but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead…”
Too much time and energy is spent on reliving the past when God says not to. In fact, the scripture uses the words, “Forgetting those things which are behind.” The best way to forget is to first fully acknowledge the reality of the situation, which can be extremely unpleasant.
For those who are addicted or in the recovery process, forgiveness is an essential act. It must first come for yourself! Secondly, you must forgive those who have hurt, betrayed or abandoned you.
For more information or to purchase the book you can click on the following link: http://www.amazon.com/Follow-The-Solid-Rock-Road/dp/0615337899/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1343678768&sr=8-1
Learn more about The Solid Rock Road Christian recovery ministry and book at www.thesolidrockroad.com. You can also find the book “Follow The Solid Rock Road is available on Amazon.com. To connect with Jamee Rae Pineda, send an email to [email protected]