On 28th of June, Esther Soo – Executive Leader and Director of Ellel Singapore – shared about forgiveness in the Ellel 7-Day International Training School at Everly hotel, Putrajaya.
Jesus final words on the cross were ,”Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Many people who caused offense to us, do not know what they were doing or how deep they had hurt us.
The best person to emulate forgiveness from is God. He sent His only Son Jesus Christ to die for our sin. In other words, God provided us forgiveness through His Son Jesus. Forgiveness is in the very heart of God.
Forgiveness releases us from the offender
An invisible hook keeps the offender close in mind and heart. But when we forgive, we release this hook and let our offender go free. We give him or her to Jesus to either judge, punish or convict this person.
Offences that are not forgiven, on the other hand, are like wounds left to fester. Over time, undealt offences turn into anger, resentment and lastly hatred. The consequence of unforgiveness is a broken relationship.
Not only it affects our mind and emotions, research has shown that cancer patients often harbour unforgiveness as well. It allows the devil to hold us as his prisoner.
Yet, we take unforgiveness lightly. Our mind wants to forgive but our emotions refuse to, like the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-23). We forget that God wrote off our full debt of sin.
What God thinks about forgiveness
Jesus said that we need to forgive our brother who offends us 490 times (Matthew 18:21). Unless we forgive, God will not forgive us (Matthew 18:35).
What forgiveness is not
Firstly, forgiveness is a command. It is given for our good. We must forgive before God can heal us. If not, bitter roots will grow and defile others as well. We cannot say no to forgiveness.
Secondly, forgiveness is a prerequisite to receiving God’s forgiveness (Matthew 18:35).
Thirdly, forgiveness is costly for the giver. It costs Jesus’ life. But the recipients of forgiveness, which are you and me, get it for free. Forgiveness is not cheap.
We often heard the saying that forgiveness is divine. This is true: when we decide to forgive the person, God will start his healing work in us. He turns our sinful heart of stone into a heart of flesh. He frees us from the bondage of unforgiveness.
Forgiveness is not judging or punishing the offender, but releasing him or her to the perfect Judge, God in Heaven. We can discern right and wrong. But we are not given the authority to judge.
Forgiveness is not just words. But we must forgive from our heart, which is the seat of our mind, emotions and will.
Forgiveness is not conditional. It does not require the offender to change or apologise. He or she does not need to earn our forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not excusing the offender’s sin, but releasing him or her to Jesus. In other words, forgiveness does not cancel the offender’s consequence of action. A murderer is still imprisoned by the law, for his or her crime.
Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. God gives us the ability to make memories. But when we forgive, we remember the pain but we no longer feel the pain. There is no more bondage to the offender.
Forgiveness is not being continually sinned against. We forgive our abuser. But we do not allow ourselves to be continually abused. Our Father in Heaven will not allow His children to be continually mistreated.
Forgiveness is not trusting the offender. Trust can only be earned, but not given.
Forgiveness is not denying experience of anger. God has anger as well, but He correctly expressed it. We are allowed to be angry, but we are called to let go of anger and forgive before we sleep – so the devil don’t have a foothold on us (Ephesians 4:27).
Some of us are angry with God. But we also need to forgive God not because He is wrong – but because He did not live up to our expectations.
What forgiveness is
Esther shared how an elderly lady forgave the murderer of his husband and his son.
At 70 years old, when the crime was acquitted, she request the murderer to be her son and see her twice a month to receive her love!
Forgiveness is to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), which is in line with loving our neighbour ‘unconditionally’ as how we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39).
We must also not forget to forgive ourselves. King Manasseh who is called the ‘most wicked king’ in the Bible, was forgiven by God when he repented. He became the longest-reign king in Judah, with 55 years (2 Kings 21:1). Peter was restored to apostleship and became the ‘rock’ of Jesus Christ, although he betrayed Him three times (Matthew 16:18; 26:34). Forgiveness is in the heart of God. God wants to forgive us because He loves us very much.
Thank you Jesus for dying for me on the cross that I might be forgiven. I now choose to forgive from my heart and release from my judgment and punishment, all those who have hurt me or offended me.
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