If we use Christ as our ultimate example of forgiveness, then we know that not only was He profoundly merciful and forgiving, but He’s also completely truthful in that forgiveness. In fact, our faith in Him is ignited by Christ’s truth,
“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jn. 8:32 (NIV)
In a similar way, we can claim Christ’s freedom when we pursue the truth as we forgive and seek forgiveness. Today I will focus specifically on forgiving others.
Let’s consider the woman who was caught in adultery and brought to Jesus by the teachers of the Law. Jesus didn’t dismiss, minimize or sugar-coat her sin. He didn’t say, “Oh, dear woman, I know you didn’t mean to have a multitude of illicit affairs with a variety of men. You poor thing, you’re really the victim here!”
No, He was very clear about the sin. More importantly, He knew her sin was truly against Him—not just against the people who were affected by her sin. Still He extended mercy to her. And finally, He urged her to “go now and leave your life of sin.” Jn. 8:11b (NIV)
Christ wasn’t so merciful to the self-righteous men who had brought the adulterous woman to Him. We don’t know what He was doing exactly as He wrote on the ground, but we get the idea that Christ brought their “lies” into the light of day. So the reason they didn’t receive Christ’s mercy like the woman had, was because they weren’t truthful about their sin—confessing and repenting of it.
So the first step in our journey to forgive another is to acknowledge the truth—the reality of the sin that was committed against us, including what we suffered and lost because of it.
God wants us to recognize that truth. If we don’t, we’re living in denial—lying to ourselves and others. When we live in denial we bury emotions that refuse to be ignored.
That terminology reminds me of a “modern-day adulteress” in the movie, “Fatal Attraction.” With that in mind, consider this metaphor …
Hanging on to resentment and ignoring its destruction is like trying to ignore some psychotic, scorned and blood-thirsty lover who just won’t leave the matter alone. Bitterness will hunt you down and shred your life, harden your heart, infecting and systematically damaging every relationship in your life—including and especially your relationship with God!
We don’t have to let our bitterness infect and overpower us. God provides and uses truth to initiate healing of our wounds and removing of our chains!
Do you agree? Do you think that forgiveness must begin with seeing the truth of your offender’s actions against you? Or do you consider this blaming?
What has helped you to work through hurts and forgive a repeated offender?
Click the link to read all the posts in this Forgiveness Series.