THE ART OF FORGIVENESS
Warren Wiersbe wrote in his commentary Be Skillful: “It’s strange but true that some of God’s people will forgive offenses from unbelievers that they would never forgive if a Christian friend committed them.” G.K. Chesterson gave additional insight about friends who hurt friends: “God commanded us to love both our enemies and our neighbors because usually they are the same people.” Don’t be so hard on those who hurt you. You probably have done the same thing yourself. David describes the intense pain we feel when we are hurt by a trusted friend in Psalm 55:12-14. He laments: “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.” (NIV) No matter what the scenario is, we can divide all offended people into two catergories: those who have been treated un- justly, or those who believe they have been treated unjustly. Often they draw conclusions from inaccurate information. If the information is accurate, the conclusion may still be distorted.
- Do you have people in your life that you wish to avoid? Who are they?
- Have you processed the hurt in the relationship? Why or why not?
- Can you remember a time when you hurt someone else? How did it make you feel?
- Can you imagine that the friend who wounded you is also in pain?
King Solomon had no peer. He was wise and discerning to a fault. With his God-given wisdom and discernment, it must have been hard to overlook the foibles of others. King Solomon saw betrayal firsthand. He watched Absalom, his step- brother, vie for David’s throne. He
grieved as he watched Tamar, his stepsister, raped by Amnon, Solomon’s step- brother. He watched his own stepbrother Adonijah try to steal his crown. Solomon’s first assignment as king was to kill Joab, David’s trusted advisor, who had betrayed his father David. Solomon was probably leary of intimacy.
JESUS’ MODEL OF FORGIVENESS
The chief method God uses to give us a forgiving heart is to allow us to experience Christ’s forgiveness for our own sins and weaknesses. In the gospel of John, John paints the picture of an adulterous woman awaiting death by stoning. As the religious leaders surrounded her like hungry dogs, Jesus looks them squarely in the eye and said:
“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7-8 NIV)
God will give us the grace to forgive as we see the darkness of our own souls. Such brokenness before Christ softens and changes us from vindictive enemies to vulnerable allies. No one is without sin. In receiving grace and forgiveness at the foot of the cross, we can extend grace as well. Paul wrote these wise words to the Christians in Colosse:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kind- ness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as mem- bers of one body you were called to peace.” (Colossians 3:12-15 NIV)
Jesus modeled forgiveness for us in a marvelous way. He mourned His hurt (Matthew 26:38). He understood the truth of what was happening as He hung on the cross between heaven and earth (Luke 23:34). He forgave His offenders. If we fail to process our hurts, it is impossible to receive emotional healing. If we do not understand why we have experienced wounding from another, it is difficult to freely offer forgiveness. Jesus recognized that the soldiers did not know what they were doing. And finally, we choose to forgive by an act of our will (Luke 6:37).
Pinch yourself. If it hurt it means you are alive and everyone living has had a friend (or friends) hurt them. This may be a devotional that you need to read several times to let the truths sink deeply into your heart. Perhaps talking or praying with someone would be helpful.
APPLYING THE TRUTH
Read: Psalm 55:12-14; Proverbs 18:19; Matthew 26:38; Luke 6:37; Luke 17:1; Luke 23:34 John 8:7-8; Colossians 3:12-15
In the area below, write out the Scripture(s), thought(s), and question(s) from today’s devotional that you want to spend more time thinking about. What will you apply to your life?