I love it whenever God is able to use one message to reach many people in different ways. My pastor gave a sermon a few Sundays ago and while I feel like I gained a lot from the entire sermon, there was one part in particular that stood out to me.
I've had some very hurtful experiences in my life and it wasn't until after I came to know Christ that I was able to forgive those people, or rather, one person in particular. I felt at peace for a while after forgiving that person. But over time, the hurt came back and I felt like I needed to forgive and forgive again. I was terrified about opening my heart back up to that person and allowing them into my life.
I told myself, "I will forgive them, but I will never forget what they did to me because I won't let them do that again."
A few Sundays ago when my pastor gave the sermon I mentioned, a new light what shed on forgiveness for me. I had been looking at it in the wrong way for a long time. This verse touched my heart...
"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13
The crazy thing is that I already had this verse highlighted in my Bible. I had read it before and thought that I had learned from it before, as well. I read it as if to say, because the Lord forgives us, we should forgive others.
But it says more than that. It says "Forgive as the Lord forgave you."
That means forgive with the same type of forgiveness that the Lord forgives you. Forgive others in the way that the Lord forgives you. Forgive others with the type of love that the Lord forgives you.
The Lord forgives us, and then He forgets what it is that we did.
I wasn't doing that when I was forgiving people. I was letting what they did to me stand in the way of truly forgiving them in the way that we are called to. Because I wasn't letting myself forget what had happened, I wasn't actually giving that person complete forgiveness. I might have liked to think that I wasn't holding a grudge against them, but I was. Jesus forgives us and wipes our slate completely free and then He continues to love us just as much as if we had never done anything that needed forgiving.
So that's what I have been striving to do lately. To forgive in the way that I am forgiven. To forgive completely, wholly, and to offer love in return. If Jesus is able to forgive me for what he suffered on the cross, I most definitely need to find it in me to forgive those who have hurt me, because nothing will ever compare.