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How Often Do You Forgive?

Forgiveness in marriage should be as natural as breathing and practiced almost as often, is a quote my husband uses in marriage conferences and even wedding ceremonies. He says God gave those words to him to encourage couples on their journeys of marriage. I'm sure it didn't have anything to do with living with me!

Forgiveness is such an important subject matter for the Christian life. In fact,Jesus was explicit about including it in the format for daily prayer He gaveus. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (Matthew6:12). Do you forgive at least daily?

You don't really think of forgiveness as a spiritual discipline to practice inthe same way you do fasting, prayer, meditation. But you should. Forgivenessis one of the most powerful spiritual disciplines. The benefits to your mind,body and spirit are enormous.

How many times each day does Jesus forgive you? That’s how many times aday Jesus tells you to forgive others. He explains the work of forgiveness thisway; For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Fatherwill also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Fatherwill not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:14-15). Now that sounds a little harshdoesn't it? Isn't forgiveness free? This sounds like there’s a little workon my part involved.

The truth is that if I am unwilling to forgive my brother for sinning againstme, God doesn't forgive me simply because I do not fully comprehend the forgivenessHe offers. You see my brother can commit some pretty heinous acts against me,but none as great at the sin I commit against a Holy God. When I refuse to forgive,I am ignoring the forgiveness that has been offered to me.

So many people miss out on the extreme freedom and pure joy of forgiveness becausethey have a wrong view of forgiveness. God does not invite us to forgiveso the other person can be set free to harm and hurt again. He teaches us toforgive so we can be healed from the horrific pain others leave behind in thewake of their sin against us. He doesn't expect that you can forgive in yourown power. He doesn't want you to be a doormat because you practice this powerfulspiritual discipline.

He does want you to be healed from the damage we do to one another along thejourney of life. He does want you to fully embrace the forgiveness He has offeredto you. Forgiveness is not forgetting, pretending it didn't hurt, a feeling,or even reconciliation. Forgiveness is a choice to trust that God knows best.It is the faith of a mustard seed that God will set you free from the prisonof bitterness. It isn't always instant, though it can be. It is a process ofdaily willingness to open your heart to the Holy Spirit’s work. You knowyou are getting it when your heart gets to the place that you would desire reconciliationif the other is willing to come to terms with the damage. As I take a breath,I wonder who do I need to forgive today? What does God forgive me of right now?



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