“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-32
The current sermon series on forgiveness has been especially relevant to me because of some really tough things I have been faced with recently. Without going into detail, I have been hurt significantly by someone who I don’t ever expect to hear an apology from, and in fact I expect to continue to be hurt by her in the future. And yet, I know that God wants me to forgive her anyway.
I have known that offering grace under the current circumstances would be totally unexpected. And it seems totally impossible to me. I want to hold tightly to all of the evidence of wrongs done to me. I want justice. I want the world to know the truth. And I want her to pay. Yesterday morning, Pastor talked about how we file this stuff away when someone hurts us. We build a case against them. We bring charges, gather evidence, and want to manage and enforce the sentence. We use enormous amounts of energy making sure that none of the details are overlooked.
But he says “get rid of all bitterness and anger….forgiving each other, just as God forgave me.” While I want to keep ruminating on all of the things that this person did to hurt me, I wonder if God wants me to spend time thinking about all of the things he has forgiven me for. All of the hurts that I have caused other people and HIM...all of the ugly things I have done. Only in this context, does he ask me to turn the “file” over to him.
Yesterday Pastor asked us to say the words, “I forgive you completely.” That seemed almost scary for me to apply those words to the hurt that I’ve been holding on to. And it made me realize that I haven’t forgiven her at all. I guess you can’t sort of forgive someone. You can only do it all the way…or you haven’t really forgiven. Get rid of ALL bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Takes a lot of trust. I am glad that my God does this so well, and I pray that I can honor him with the way that I forgive others now and in the future.