"I forgive you, but you don't deserve it!" Have you ever said that?
I think we Christians realize we should forgive, and we’ll even give it lip service, but really, are we sometimes thinking of forgiveness as an option?
If we’re honest, we have to admit we are. We’ll forgive someone if they’re really sorry or if they deserve it. But here’s what I’ve learned: forgiving and deserving don’t have anything to do with each other!
In fact, forgiveness doesn’t have anything at all to do with the person we’re forgiving.
I know, that’s sort of a crazy thought, but it’s freeing, too. It means you can forgive and go free no matter what the other person has done.
How in the world can we do that, even when the person who hurt us clearly doesn’t deserve to be forgiven?
It helps when we realize that we forgive because God says to, and because he forgave us, and because it sets us free.
I’ve had to remind myself that I don’t forgive based on what someone has or hasn’t done; I forgive because God says to and because it’s my path to freedom.
After all, God forgave us when we didn’t deserve it. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” While we were sinners, Jesus chose to die for us and pay for all our sins. He forgave us when we least deserved it. So doesn’t it make sense that we are to forgive people when they don’t deserve it?
No Strings Attached
God forgave us in Jesus because he is good, not because we are good. Aren’t you glad that he didn’t view forgiveness as an option but rather as part of his covenant? I am! It’s not based on how I behave but on his determination to love at all costs.
It’s the same for us. We forgive because God is good and he’s in us, not because the person we’re forgiving is good (or deserves it). Colossians 3:13 says, “Even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” Christ forgave us without strings attached, out of his great mercy and love. Since he did, notice that verse says we must do it too! That doesn’t sound like an option to me — it sounds like a commandment.
And we know that when we obey the Lord’s commandments, things go well with us. Loving God means keeping his commandments. First John 5:3 says, “Loving God means doing what he tells us to do, and really, that isn’t hard at all” (TLB). I’m so glad the Bible says it’s not hard. That way, when it feels hard, I can remind myself that God says it isn’t! I can choose to believe his Word.
Obeying God — in this case, choosing to forgive — is our path to freedom. It’s not hard and we can do it! Jesus showed us the way.
We should be very glad that forgiveness has nothing to do with deserving because neither you nor I deserved to be forgiven. We were all the same before Jesus saved us. We were undeserving sinners. I’m just glad every day that God forgave me before I ever deserved it!
Be careful of wanting people to get what they deserve. I used to tell my students, “Be careful about using the ‘D’ word” (deserving). If you and I got what we deserve, we’d all die and go to hell.” Thankfully, God’s amazing covenant, bought by the blood of the Lamb, has delivered us when we didn’t deserve it at all.
This is an excerpt from Karen’s book, “’I Forgive You, But….’ 3 Steps That Can Heal Your Heart Forever.” Read the first part of the book here: http://iforgiveyoubook.com/