Hedwig Edle von Malheim-Friedländer (1863-1916)
Way # 8 We forgive one another, covering an offense with love when wronged or hurt.
All of us make mistakes. We lose our temper. We are selfish and want the best or biggest piece of cake. We become angry over petty issues. We break someone else's toy.
No matter how hard any of us try, we will always always make mistakes and eventually fall short of someone's expectations and disappoint those who love us.
That is why forgiveness is so very essential to the message of Christ. We are those who love the best because we are those who give the most grace, and have been given the most grace. As we love Christ, He leads us to give grace and forgive.
In a world where culture gives us every kind of excuse to divorce, to hold a grudge, to become a victim of a difficult life, to gossip, to criticize, the practice of forgiveness stands out like a beacon of light for a defense of Christianity.
It is not logical to forgive someone who has offended us, but it is supernatural--it can only come from walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet, forgiveness and humility was constantly on the heart of Jesus.
Peter wanted to quantify forgiveness, like we all desire to do! He was willing to be noble and forgive someone, but after all, he thought there surely must be a limit! Perhaps 7 is the number we should forgive, Lord? He asked with a self-justifying heart.
No, Jesus said. 70 times 7--in other words, you must forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive, .........
Forgiving another person who has hurt us, damaged our reputation, who has continually been mean spirited or abused us in some way is one of the most difficult practices to exercise. All of us have been deeply hurt. It is natural to want to take revenge, or even to justify our own position and way of looking at an offense to justify lack of forgiveness.
Yet, it is the way of Jesus--the supernatural way of the Spirit in our lives to extend forgiveness and unconditional love.
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us," we read in Romans 8.
He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf. II Cor. 5:21
To truly understand Jesus, to worship Him from a grateful heart, requires that we learn to forgive and even to barely take offense when wronged. Bowing our knee and our will to actually forgive someone and expect nothing in return is not natural but supernatural.
Jesus said that if someone hit us, we should offer him the other cheek. He told stories about forgiveness--the judge who forgave a very large debt of a man, who was not willing to forgive another man a small debt owed him.
In II Timothy 2:24, Paul admonished us:
"The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged."
If we want our children to consider marriage sacred then we must behave as though it is sacred and forgive one another when wronged. Same with family members, neighbors, fellow believers in church, neighbors, everyone.
Forgiveness is the essence of God's heart. It compelled Him to die for us.
So, if we want to give our children a secret to living a life of love, we must teach them this Family Way. If we want our children to be godly leaders in this world, they must see self-sacrificing, humble forgiveness in and through our words, our lives and our actions.
One of the most important values I have come to understand from being a mama, is that when I take responsibility for the shaping of my children's hearts, to teach them truth, I have had to become more godly in order to teach them these life-changing truths.
And so, as we approach this week's way, let us understand that helping our children practice forgiveness over and over again, will establish a pattern in their hearts to remember when they must make this choice as adults. Train up a child in the way he should go--in forgiving 70 X 70 X70 and so on, and forgiveness will become a part of his paradigm for life. If we all loved this way and forgave, the world would indeed become a place open to the heart and message of Christ.
Memory Verse: Colosians 3: 13 (and I included 12--as it was so very instructive to our children! (and to me!)
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
And so today, as you take this into your own heart, remember, that without forgiveness as a way of life in your home, your words about the death of Jesus and His sacrifice may become hollow, if forgiveness is not the rule of your own heart and home.
May God give each of us grace to become stronger and stronger at forgiving and extending love more every day. I think I will perfect this when I am 75! But at least I am working on it!