The Lord has been teaching me about forgiveness. He has a way of piercing to my heart with these lessons! Sometimes I want Him to stop working so I don’t have to go through the bother of being challenged, but when I really stop and think about it, I get excited! The fact that He’s working in my heart means I’m abiding in Him!
I came across this passage today:
“Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us.” -Micah 7:18-19
Until the Lord started testing me, I didn’t realize how bitter I was toward other people! When they wronged me, I would just let it sit in my heart and rot. And rot. And rot.
When I take a look at the Lord’s attitude towards other’s wrongs to Him, it’s not at all like my attitude:
…pardoning…passing over…does not retain anger…delights in mercy…has compassion…
And my sin-load has hurt Him far worse than anyone’s little sins that “hurt” me. How thankful I am that He delights in mercy toward me! If He let my sins rot in His heart, I’d still be without salvation.
I got used to saying this phrase automatically when I was a kid. It was a ritual that must be performed because 1) Mom told us to and 2) We had to do it before we could get back to playing. This was the standard script:
Mom: “Laura, say you’re sorry.”
Laura, mumbling: “I’m sorry.”
Mom: “Theresa, what do you say?”
Me, mumbling: “I forgive you.”
When I say “I forgive you” do I mean it? Do I really “pass over transgressions” and “not retain anger”? Do I let it go and forget? Or do I hold onto grudges forever?
Another word of wisdom, learned through tears: forgive immediately. Once, when I failed to forgive my fiancé Trent right away, I hurt him deeply. After that, the Lord showed me this passage:
“You ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.” -2 Corinthians 2:7-8
That spoke to my heart, and I prepared for the next time I would need to forgive him by telling myself, “Forgive, reaffirm your love.” This was a priceless lesson.
When in such close fellowship with someone, as I am with Trent, it is crucially important that I don’t let their sin rot my heart out. Soon after unforgiveness comes bitterness, and then comes hatred. Those attitudes don’t do much for a loving relationship.