“Forgiveness…in accordance with the riches of…grace.” Eph 1:7 NIV
Ever notice how quickly we judge somebody else’s shortcomings while making all kinds of allowance for our own? Paul talks about “the riches of…grace” that God lavished on us. But we strain that grace when we refuse to extend it to others. Jesus said, “When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so…your Father…may forgive you” (Mk 11:25 NIV). You don’t get to decide which offenses you’ll forgive and which ones you’ll keep holding over somebody’s head. We are commanded to “love mercy” (Mic 6:8 NIV). That means we must pursue it and make it our goal. Don’t say, “I’ll forgive him when he proves he deserves it.” Biblical forgiveness isn’t conditional, can’t be earned, isn’t deserved, and you can’t bargain for it. Jesus said, “Give as freely as you…received!” (Mt 10:8 NLT). “If I forgive her she’ll have gotten away with it.” You’re not letting anybody get away with anything, because even when you’ve forgiven the offender there’s still a penalty to be paid. It’s just not your job to enforce it. “If I forgive him he’ll keep hurting me.” Forgiveness doesn’t mean the relationship always stays the same. It takes time to rebuild trust and make sure repentance is genuine. In fact, if the offense is abusive or puts you in danger—forgive, but maintain a safe distance. “If I forgive her she’s free to hurt me again.” The truth is, she’s free to do it again anyway, just like you’re free to show grace even when the offender doesn’t ask or show any sign of repentance.
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