The New Testament brings us on a walk through forgiveness. One of my favorite scripture in the Bible is in Matthew 18. Peter was asking how many times he would have to forgive a “fellow believer” that continually offends, seven times? Jesus responded, seventy times seven times. Unlimited forgiveness.
Forgiveness in the cases of our community of believers shall be as abundant and overflowing to all, as unto us. Measuring amount of forgiveness is irrelevant when we have immeasurable grace poured out to us.
Then, we beg the question, what if the offense is greater than a common mistake or coming from someone other than a fellow believer. The abusive family member, the alcoholic or addict, or the religious affliction? Let us go even deeper of offense. What about the molestation, the rape, the murder?
We have a responsibility to forgive, gaining freedom from the emotional prison we find ourselves in from receiving the offense against us.
Pain wants to move it’s way into our soul. It wants our thoughts, emotions, and identity. Forgiveness gives us a way to process the pain without it becoming who we are. It empowers us into a movement of deliverance without acceptance of the behavior and/or having to continue a relationship with the offender. When pain becomes our identity, we tie ourselves to the offender and adopt the offense against us as who we are.
Sometimes the pain becomes too unbearable and we cannot seem to find a place of forgiveness.
Imagine taking on the sins of others, bearing all offenses and everything that came with it. Taking on a pain and anguish to the point that you sweat blood. Physically beaten to near death, flesh torn, bleeding out, bones shattered and exposed. A pain that leaves you emotionally exhausted, weeping, and crying for release.
Jesus did this for us. All through his time in the gospels he was hurled at with offenses. The end neared and he took on our pain. In Luke 23:34 Jesus cries out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.
What a beautiful portrait to show us that when we cannot find forgiveness to give or forgiveness to ask...we can turn to God and have Him deliver us through it all. The religious leaders continued their offenses, mocking Jesus through His immense suffering until He cried out, “Father, I surrender my Spirit.”
Forgiveness is not acceptance of behavior and it is not excusing the offense. Forgiveness is a deliverance from the pain that we carry. It does not take away the pain, forgiveness redirects it to the one who can and will take it away. God.