As Christians, we never expected it to be an easy ride. We knew we would be asked to go beyond our comfort zones. We knew a Christian life would require strength of character like no other.
We are called. We are faithful. God is ever with us.
Even so, it can still feel difficult to summon the courage to walk the Christian path at times – particularly when we are called to forgive our transgressors.
We Are Called to Forgive
We’ve all had times when we’ve had trouble forgiving. Perhaps your spouse yelled at you. Maybe your parent criticized your own parenting. We can struggle with forgiving even the most minor offenses: a poorly chosen word, a careless mistake, a disapproving look, or even a forgotten promised phone call.
We often keep a tally of the wrongs in the back of our minds just in case we need it. Yet, we may do well to heed the wisdom of the Apostle Paul in First Corinthians 13:4-5: “Love is patient, love is kind… it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
We may hold onto the hurt and resentment when someone sins against us. We sometimes convince ourselves that we’re justified in harboring the anger and un-forgiveness in our hearts.
The problem is, when we hold onto hurts, we only hurt ourselves. The other person may have even forgotten about it. And yet, we might cling to resentment and are ultimately responsible for our own continued suffering if we do.
We Are Tested
Can you imagine how you would react if you came face-to-face with the man who killed someone you love? Your sister, mother, spouse, or child?
What would you think? What would you feel? What would you say? What would you do? What would you want to do to him?
These are questions Mike Bailey had to consider when his 20-year-old daughter was taken from him. On the day he confronted the man who sold her the drug that ended her life much too soon, Mike Bailey had one of two choices: allow his anger and grief to overwhelm, or seek refuge in the loving arms of God to calm his grief and allow God’s love.
Everyone in the courtroom expected the grieving father to either rage at or guilt-trip the person responsible for his daughter’s death. No one would’ve blamed Bailey if he had spent the entire time lashing out against the man who took his precious little girl. But what did Mike Bailey do?
With all eyes on him, tears streaming down his cheeks, he addressed the man facing 20 years in prison for his daughter’s death:
“As a family, we write this letter to you hopefully through the eyes of Christ, not to condemn you, but to allow your conviction to change your heart and your life…By God’s love and grace we are saved and forgiven…Forgiveness doesn’t right a wrong, but it frees us from the bondage of that wrong… You need to know that we do not hold any ill feelings toward you as a person created by God. We extend forgiveness to you for the wrongs against our family in the same way that Christ has forgiven our wrongs.
We neither hate nor condemn you in any way, but hope that through your conviction you will seek your own personal forgiveness from God.”
We Have Been Given the Best Example
We can all take a leaf out of Mike Bailey’s book. His book is clearly the Word of God. His leaf is undoubtedly from the book of Matthew, as chapter 18: 21-22 reads, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’”
Mathew 6: 14-15 also cautions, “for if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
The next time you feel like you have no courage or strength left to give, remember Mike Bailey and rest in the silence, peace and healing of God. He will never forsake you.
As Christians, we are called to challenge ourselves. We are called to seek His wisdom. We are called to live through His strength. We are called to forgive. We are called.
~ 1776 Christian