But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
forgiveness means God matters most Published week of october 4, 2020
When it comes to forgiveness, there are a lot of difficult questions that will arise like: 'How should we deal with someone who has wronged us?' 'How do we forgive someone who has deeply hurt us but is not repenting nor asking for forgiveness?' Here's another challenging question, 'What about the person who doesn’t even recognize he has done anything wrong or maybe does and is glad he is doing it?' Answers to these questions regarding forgiveness can be seen throughout the New Testament. (1) Jesus: The teachings of Jesus speak of loving our enemies and forgiveness. Jesus taught (Luke 6:27-28) that love doesn’t just forgive when another person asks for it. (2) Paul: Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13 that love offers forgiveness with no strings attached. Love also bears with another and endures. (3) Peter: Then according to 1 Peter 4:8 we read that love covers over a multitude of sins.
But here is the greatest challenge to all of these and other questions, as well as the clear writings of the New Testament texts of Scripture regarding forgiveness. The main obstacle to loving and forgiving in this way is that if we do this, that is, if we really do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who mistreat us – then very few people, if anyone, will know that we have been hurt.
Doing good, praying for, and blessing those people who need our forgiveness means that we are not walking around depressed and downtrodden. We aren’t withdrawn and angry, or worked up and annoyed. We are not highlighting our hurt. Instead, we are behaving in a hope-filled, joyful, and gracious way. If we do this in a biblical manner, then no one will even know that we have been rejected, insulted, betrayed, or wounded. Yes, I know that we are probably thinking that is easier said than done. I agree because everything in our selfish, sin-filled souls will hate that. By nature, we want people to know when we’ve been wronged and by nature we want sympathy. On top of that, if we are being nice to the one who has wronged us, then we want to wear a “badge” so everyone knows about it.
Here is the acid test that we must ask ourselves: Is it enough that God knows you have been wounded? Is it enough to let Christ attend to your hurt? After all, He is our faithful High Priest who has suffered in every way that we have. How often are our hearts more centered on people rather than on Christ? The Apostle Peter writes (1 Peter 2:19), “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.” This verse is telling us that it is a gracious thing to put our mind on God when enduring sorrow even while unjustly suffering. When we obey Jesus and do good to those who wrong us, handing them entirely over to the Lord, we glorify and please God. You see, our greatest need is not that our hurt be recognized or vindicated, but rather that God means more to us than anyone else. When we obey His Word and offer grace and forgiveness – especially where it is not requested or deserved – we show God that He matters most.
“Dear Jesus, I admit that it is not easy to obey Your Word when it comes to forgiving those who have hurt and wronged me. Please forgive me for the times I have got caught up in believing that what others think means more to me than You. Help me to follow your example of forgiveness. Work on my heart and continue to draw me closer to You until nothing and no one matters more to me than obeying and honoring You. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.”