You Gotta Be Kiddin' Me!"
It is often said that communication is a two-way street.
This two-way illustration allows for a deeper dimension
when viewed through the light of the Gospel. As
creations of God Almighty, we have been made with the capacity to reach up toward a relationship with our Creator. At the same time, we have been created with the capacity to reach out toward a relationship with others.
As we proceed in life, it becomes impossible to have
only one way of communicating, either with God alone, or with others alone. Accordingly, in order that
our lives are sustaining and satisfying, we must include communication and relationship
both with God and with others.
God charges us to ask for His forgiveness when we see and understand that we have not obeyed His principles ~ when we see our own sin. And, as we turn from our own way and set ourselves on God’s path of life, we receive
His unrestrained shower of mercy and grace.
Whenever we take a departure from God's order,
and we sin, we become sidetracked in our relationship with God. He wants to get our hearts back on track to follow his instruction and purpose for which we have
been created. God desires to forgive us simply because He wants to make it possible ~ to provide a pathway ~ for
us to come to a remorseful state and speak what we
know we have done in disobedience; to humbly
confess our sin and ask Him to forgive us.
Then, after reaching that place of having been forgiven
by God, we are able to once again embrace our
Heavenly Father in a whole, unhindered relationship; with nothing hidden from Him or from ourselves.
In summary, the only way that we are able to
receive God’s forgiveness is by coming to
Him in a place of experiencing true regret and remorse, and following through with the acknowledgement and the declaration of our own awareness of any culpability.
But, what about the times when we are the one who
has been sinned against? Are we really expected to
extend forgiveness to the person who hurt us?
How in the world are we supposed to say
“God, I forgive this person who hurt me...” ~
the very one who seems to
have gotten away with violating us?
The odds are we may be thinking, “After all of the things that he/she did to humiliate me, to hurt me, to destroy
me with no thought of my safety…now You want
me to say that I forgive him/her? No way!”
When we have been violated, we do have a right to
bring justice by making the offender pay the price that we exact. But, when we bring our hurts to God, and offer forgiveness to the offender through God, we are withdrawing our right to make that person pay the
debt to us. We are in effect shifting the debt
of the debtor/violator to God.
To forgive another person who has brought a violation
against us does not mean that the offender is released from any sense of responsibility or restitution. But, forgiveness does mean that, along with releasing the sinned-against person from potential bitterness and hardness of
heart, the door is wide open to draw the
offender toward a loving relationship with God.
While we may be obedient to God in presenting forgiveness to the offender, that act alone does
not guarantee a complete restoration of
the relationship as it existed before the failure.
When the offender does not have a godly response to his offense ~ an unrepentant heart ~ the offender will distract and redirect the blame to others, and fail to take responsibility for personal actions. While there may be other reasons that a complete restoration might not take place, in the case of an unrepentant offender,
complete restoration is impossible.
The strength of our readiness and the intensity of our
potential to recognize and admit the scope of the offense against us will determine our capacity to forgive.
Forgiveness is a spiritual force that alters
the condition of the heart.
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.