To Forgive…or Not

forgiveness3For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,
so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT

To forgive or not to forgive, that is life’s dilemma.

Mickey had faced a lot in life. He’d had to forgive his first wife for walking out on him. So he wasn’t prepared for the words his second wife pronounced one night in their bedroom: “I don’t love you anymore.”

Mickey’s world crumbled when he also learned his wife had been unfaithful to him. Containing his anger took all the strength he could muster. When his wife finally walked out, forgiveness was the last thing on his mind. When it became evident that the marriage was not salvageable, he had to make a choice: forgive her and move on or resent her and be miserable.

God’s choice was similar. He created humans, placed them in a garden where all their needs were met, and gave them one prohibition. Shortly thereafter, they failed the test. His choice was assigning them and their descendants a murky future or forgiving them and providing a way for their reconciliation. He chose a path of reclamation that was foreshadowed by the skins He secured to cover their nakedness.

Thousands of years later, Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice symbolized by those first animal skins. But why couldn’t God merely have forgiven without such a gruesome act of suffering as the cross demonstrated? The answer lies in the association between forgiveness and suffering. The first always encompasses the second.

Choosing to forgive entails suffering. If someone wrongs me and I choose not to forgive, resentment, hatred, anger, and plans for revenge will assume the place of forgiveness. I may think my refusal to forgive is hurting the other person, but I’m the one who suffers. Doing the opposite—forgiving, also contains an element of suffering.

My willingness to forgive automatically brings suffering because I’m releasing someone from a debt they owe me for a wrong they’ve committed against me. Doing so goes against my human nature and brings pain. Jesus showed how to do it well. God allowed Him to assume my sin so I could be given His righteousness. When I forgive others, I assume the pain they deserve to endure for hurting me.

God forgave because He loves. He gives us the power to do the same. Let Him teach you how to forgive those who’ve wronged you. Failing to forgive leads to a life of misery.


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