There was a question asked in one small group a few weeks back:
“Jesus knew Judas would betray Him. And that all His disciples would abandon him. Why did He still wash their feet? Why did He still serve them bread and wine??“
It’s as if He forgave them already, for all they were about to do. And actually…that was, and continues to be, the Truth. It took a little bit of time for that to sink in because I certainly haven’t thought about it that way. Additional teaching on Forgiveness from our pastor enlarged my understanding of what forgiveness is about.
- The path of forgiveness involves understanding others, why they offend :: You can’t truly forgive what you don’t understand and understanding “why” keeps our emotions in check. To understand why someone offended/hurt you doesn’t mean you condone that behavior. It just sets your frame of mind.
Jesus had perfect understanding of all our misconceptions, insecurities, fears and unreasonable expectations….so He could hang on the cross and say “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” Yes, they denied, rejected, betrayed, mocked, spat on, abused, neglected, conspired, framed, sold out, abandoned and ultimately killed Him. But He understood why. They were afraid for their lives, they feared loss of power and influence, they sought greater power, they ultimately, misunderstood Jesus.
- Forgiveness needs understanding about ourselves :: Understanding ourselves, or having the right expectations of ourselves, also means we must be humble and not think too highly or too lowly of ourselves. The more secure we are in our identity and value in God, the easier to forgive others. Only what God thinks of us matters…but to have that, we must know God loves us on a visceral level. If in our gut we doubt or don’t trust His love, then we hold onto unforgiveness as a way of “controling” the hurtful situation.
- When we understand them, we can adjust our expectations of them :: It’s our inappropriate expectations of others that gets us hurt….and we hurt others for the same reasons. This reminds me of the “distorted or definitive” view of anger to help us sort out whether or not we should get angry or hurt by something.
- Forgiveness frees us to act :: It frees us from needing to seek revenge or lay blame…whether of others or ourselves. Setting good boundaries is necessary to prevent getting hurt but be gracious too, and compassionate. Try to speak truth without anger, adjust expectations as their informed by understanding and then move forward in love. Fear is actually the opposite of Love…we hate what we fear and that leads to unforgiveness. Fight the fear we have of others, have courage and forgive.
So the questions we were left with were these which I’ll ask you:
Who do you need to forgive?
And who do you need to receive forgiveness from?
It’s Good Friday…for all that’s been forgiven of us, our offenses to each other as well as to God, I need to take a good look at myself and check that unforgiveness doesn’t have a root in my heart lest I remain unforgiven before God.
Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.