Ephesians 4:32 – 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 5 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved Children.
In my life true forgiveness has been a real struggle. My life before Christ included holding grudges, bitterness, and anger, not only towards others, but towards God as well.
It’s true what they say, most times the hardest people to forgive are those closest to you.
In my story, un-forgiveness has caused separation of family, anger, and resentment. Often I had pushed God away, a distanced myself from people on the sole fact that I could NOT bring myself to forgive; and to BE FORGIVEN. As we celebrated Easter yesterday, a day in history that changed the world, we must make note of the Words of God as described in Ephesians. That we are to be “imitators of God”. Little Christs. Now commonly known as “Christians.”
Another way to say this is that if we ARE NOT imitators of God, then we are NOT CHRISTIANS. This includes the practice of forgiveness. For that guy that really hurt you, that co-worker that doesn’t get it, that spouse that holds bitterness, for the child that resents the parent… I don’t know what it is for you, but i know this… As we hold on to bitterness and anger and UN-forgiveness, we cut ourselves off from the Lord and His work in our lives. There is no way around this fact of our faith.
For me, my lack of God’s grace for others in the way of forgiveness put me in a place of turmoil. A holding pattern of stubbornness, deceit, and hypocrisy. For while i claimed the cross of salvation for my own life, my actions and attitude towards others that hurt me failed to resemble God. My life was NOT imitating Him. Quite the opposite, in that every move i made, every day i lived, there were lies to loved ones, repeated poor behaviors (SIN), and anger. Years continued with bitterness and shame. I maintained this anger and hatred to a point that my wife and young children saw my actions and emotions and were impacted by my bitterness in their own lives. This shows the cruelty of un-forgiveness.
I can remember the day it changed. I was standing at the funeral of my grandfather, watching face to face to one of the people that had hurt me deeply. My wife took God’s Grace into her own hands and challenged me with this statement:
“Do you believe that God loved you while you were still lost?”
I thought on that… and she continued.. ” Is this the path He has for you to continue on?”
Heather had the ability to point me to “be an imitator of God” –
This ONE SMALL ACT of true forgiveness opened up the flood gates of God’s grace in my life.
Everyone’s story will be different. Everyone has the chore of going through their lives to find the points of conflict and pain and seek God for those solutions. My help came from Him through my best friend, Heather. Now it continues from her as well as through God’s word, worship, and the reliable friendships of many other believers that help remind me that forgiveness is not an option.
Has God forgiven you?
Do you forgive?