I was sharing my story with someone who was sitting across the table from me. After listening, he asked,
“Have you forgiven them?”
“I don’t know.”
I wasn’t confused about what I should do. I knew the Sunday School answer—forgive. I just wasn’t sure what that looked like. And I didn’t know what it should feel like.
And the enemy exploited my confusion.
In my two previous posts I’ve said that:
- Re-gifting God’s forgiveness is the only way we can possess this gift
- The Cost of Re-Gifting can make it difficult for us to forgive
In this post, I want to wrap things up by noting the benefits that extending forgiveness offers to us. It’s a gift that gives back.
But the enemy knows this. And he doesn’t like it. In Grinch-like fashion, he tries to snatch up our gifts, denying the blessings and benefits those gifts offer to the receiver and the giver alike.
So, in order to enjoy the happy returns from giving the gift of forgiveness, we must avoid the tricks and traps of the deceiver.
The enemy will accuse us of sin when we experience entirely appropriate emotional responses to an offense against us (outrage, anger, grief etc.) He will tempt us to minimize the offense and deny the hurt it causes us. But such denial makes it impossible to forgive. A debt has to be fully acknowledged before it can be completely forgiven.
The evil one will accuse us of having an unforgiving spirit if we feel the pain of a past offense. We must remember that forgiveness is more often a process than an instantaneous transaction. It is common for us to suffer emotional pain from an offense long after we have agreed with God to forgive our offender. Forgiveness can be like a covenant we must renew every day (R.T. Kendall, Total Forgiveness).
The accuser will charge us with sin whenever our gift of forgiveness doesn’t result in the restoration of a relationship. Situations differ greatly and outcomes vary–even when we forgive our debtors from our hearts. Reconciliation is dependent upon the attitudes and actions of both parties. We are only responsible for the disposition of our own hearts.
It’s helpful to remember—especially when we find it difficult to endure the “costly suffering” of forgiveness–that Jesus doesn’t condemn us for struggling. He suffers with us. And He strengthens us with divine power so that we might experience the wonderful returns of re-gifting God’s forgiveness:
- Spiritual Freedom The chains that once bound us to our offender, and shackled us to a past offense, are broken.
- Heart Health Our hearts begin to heal when we stop imbibing the poisons of bitterness and anger and start drinking in the love and mercy of God.
- Soul Peace Our souls experience release from the torment of the past and enter into an ever-deepening rest in God.
The benefits of forgiveness far exceed the cost. In fact, I think it’s the best gift we could ever give ourselves.
What do you think?