Day 5

Day 5: Forgiveness

Ephesians 4:31-32: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Lesson: As a concept, forgiveness seems so simple. Someone does something wrong, he or she apologizes to the wronged party, and then the wrong party offers forgiveness. This model of forgiveness may be easily applied when small offenses occur, but the reality is that forgiveness is not so easy in response to the bigger offenses. Can God truly expect us to forgive even the big offenses?

The answer, at least in part, lies in how we view forgiveness. Is forgiveness an event or a process? If it is an event, it happens all at once, and once it’s over, it’s done for good. If it is a process, it takes time and effort, with no specified endpoint. The answer is that it depends. Sometimes forgiveness is really a simple event, but other times, when the offense is bigger, forgiveness becomes a process. When we have been greatly wounded, forgiveness is not a simple, easy, one and done event. In these situations, true forgiveness requires a grieving process. We are often changed by the wrong that was done to us. We may never be the person we were before it occurred, but we can grow through the pain. It takes time and effort, but it is possible, especially with God. And it is worth it. Forgiving the person does not excuse what was done, but it does allow you to experience greater peace and joy in your own life as you let go of your hurt.

Though human forgiveness can be a complicated, long process, divine forgiveness differs. It was an event that happened all at once at one time in history, and once it took place, it was finished for good. That event was Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection three days later. With that event, we received the forgiveness for all our past, present, and future sins at one time. We did not earn it and we do not deserve it, but we are forgiven. God does not keep a record of our wrongdoing and forgives us each and every time we ask for it, that’s how much he loves us.

Activity: Read the biblical account of Christ’s death on the cross (Luke 23:32-43). Note how even as he is being executed, he practices forgiveness both towards his executioners and a criminal on a cross next to him. Is there anyone in your life towards whom you are harboring unforgiveness? Perhaps this person might even be yourself. Pray and ask to forgive you and forgive your unforgiveness. Ask God to help you in your process of forgiveness. Consider engaging in the following activity today to help you in your forgiveness process: 
  • Write a forgiveness letter to the person who wronged you. Describe honestly how the event made you feel. Consider their perspective and apologize for your role in the event. Offer forgiveness. You do not have to send this letter. It is for you.
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