I have a confession to make — I haven’t always been the most loving person. Over the course of the last year, I have introduced you to “Throat-Punch Derrick,” the guy I used to be before Jesus rescued me. Throat-Punch Derrick was more concerned with incapacitation than reconciliation and more concerned with destruction than discipleship. I even had a t-shirt that said, “Kill ‘em all, let God sort ‘em out.”
I used to use the F-bomb a lot. You know, like “F-‘em” to people I didn’t like of people who, in my mind, did me wrong. But today I want to say F-‘em to a whole new group of people. I want to say F-you and I want you to go F some folks.
Let’s see how Jesus did it:
Luke 23:34 (ESV) 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.
Some of y’all were on the edge of your seat, thinking I was gonna cuss!
In some Christian circles, Forgiveness has become just as volatile as the F-bomb. “How can we forgive those who persecute Christians?” “How can we forgive atheists?” “How can we forgive witches and pagans?” “How can we forgive radical Muslims?” “How can we forgive racists?”
How can we forgive?
I’m not going to lie and say this is easy but this is the straight gate and the narrow way Jesus spoke of. Broad is the way of destruction — in other words, the easy way is to hate who you dislike and to deny forgiveness to those who offend you.
But Jesus in, Luke 6:27-28, said to love your enemies. To bless them that curse you. To pray for them who oppress you.
Y’all this is hard. But this is love. Can you imagine that while Jesus was hanging on the cross that the thought didn’t cross his mind to condemn those who mocked, beat, and crucified Him?
But he said, “Father, Forgive them…” Listen up, you cannot forgive without love. I humbly submit to you that it is impossible to forgive without the presence of love. If you say you forgive without manifesting love, you’re just paying lip-service — going through the motions without any devotion!
Now, one thing I want to liberate you from is some Old Covenant baggage — Jesus said that if you don’t forgive, God would not forgive you (Matthew 6:14-15). He said this in His “Sermon on the Mount.” Now there was a point to the Sermon on the Mount that many people miss — that Jesus was preaching the law on steroids. In other words, He was showing the impossibility of upholding the law. Jesus was showing the desperate need for Grace. The Sermon on the Mount is not a guideline for living, it is a demonstration that there is no liberty in the law.
Think about it, no one is plucking out their eyes of cutting off their hands, right?
But watch this, Jesus demonstrated forgiveness to many. The woman at the well. The woman caught in adultery. Zachaeus. Peter. Jesus even allowed Judas to break bread with Him KNOWING what he was about to do. Jesus was all about forgiveness.
He who has been forgiven much should forgive much. But we forget that when we feel offended. And, now, forgiveness has become as bad as a cuss word.
“You wouldn’t forgive them, either, if you knew what they did to me…” This is often the rallying cry in the Body of Christ. Instead of trying to figure out how to forgive we strive to justify our feelings for holding grudges. But we are to be known by our love toward others as we love ourselves. That means letting go!
Forgiveness is evidence of our love!
Paul taught extensively on forgiveness. He taught that we have been forgiven by God and that we, too, must forgive. James and John also taught that God has forgiven us and that we, too, must forgive.
Forgiveness is a product of love. In fact, you will never be more Christlike than when you forgive.
Now don’t get it twisted, here — I’m not saying you should go become a snake handler after you’ve been bitten by a rattlesnake. You have the right to mark those who offended you and limit your exposure to them. However, you do not have the right to segregate your love, to libel or slander, or to plot vengeance against them. In Christ, you relinquish those rights!
But sometimes loving effectively means loving from a distance! You can still manifest empathy and compassion but from a safe range!
The author of Hebrews says that God not only has forgiven our sins but He has forgotten them too.
Forgiveness is also a healing balm. In some cases, it liberates others from what they’ve done to you. But in every case, it liberates you from bondage. Unforgiveness is a prison. It fosters distrust in you. It causes anxiety in you. It causes stress in you. It wears on you emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Unforgiveness is often the unseen weight on your shoulders and the unseen junk in your trunk. It keeps you from moving efficiently and effectively.
(Story of the little boy, hurtful words, father, and nails)
Someone hates you? F-em! Someone hurt you? F-em! Someone abused or oppressed you? F-em! Someone spoke badly about you? F-em!
F-em all! Let God sort ‘em out!
© 2018 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)