Last night, my awesome pastor, Dr. Jamison Hunter, preached out of Genesis 50:20. This text is familiar to most of us. It is the recount of Joseph’s words to his brothers when they came to him. Although they left him for dead years ago and he had to, as a result of their betrayal, go into slavery and later prison, he forgave them and then gave the powerful statement that many of us recite to our enemies and situations: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant if for good…” (KJV)
Dr. Hunter opened my eyes last night to the reality of grudges I hadn’t realized I was still holding on to. Oftentimes, I feel that my saying “I forgive you” is enough in situations; especially if I feel I was wronged. However, to forgive is to go back as if it never existed. Admittedly, I truly struggle with this idea.
2013 truly presented multiple opportunities for me to practice true forgiveness like Joseph showed his brothers. Unfortunately, I did not use every opportunity to do right. I realized that there are people that hurt me last year that I have “forgiven” but I still don’t talk to. With most of these people, I’ve made every effort to not be alone with them, I go out of my way to avoid them, and change the conversation if they are brought up. I never truly saw a problem with this until I actually heard what I was doing out loud. I figured I had forgiven them and couldn’t forget about it, so since I can’t forget about what they did, it’s best I not interact with them….HOW IMMATURE IS THAT?!
We were challenged to 1.) Deal with the pain and 2.) Deal with the process….but it hurts!
I truly believe that the pain of forgiveness has been what has hindered me from growth in certain areas and from truly moving into new situations afresh. If I got hurt and noted that someone’s actions hurt me and their reply was “oh, Daphene, wow! I had no idea that hurt you. I’m so sorry…how can I make it better?” then I could totally forgive in its truest sense. However, that’s not how it goes and it’s not how it’s gone at all.
True forgiveness is having someone you love and trust hurt you and acknowledge that they hurt you and that they meant to hurt you, but you still forgive them and love them. True forgiveness is having a group of people scandalize your name, and instead of you running their names through the mud, you smile at them, hug them, and share kindness and love when you see them in spite. True forgiveness requires that we actually model our lives after Christ.
Christ shows us true forgiveness. He gives us opportunity after opportunity, but we continue to hurt Him. We lie, we cheat, we sin…but He continues to love us. After we wronged Him and with the knowledge that those who would be born centuries later would still wrong Him, Christ chose to pay the ultimate debt for us.
We owed our lives because of our mess, and He repaid it with His life…and then we still mess up, but He’s still madly in love with us and continues to comfort us, protect us, give us favor, peace, and joy….now THAT’S TRUE FORGIVENESS.
In 2013, I messed up with forgiveness. I chose to be bitter based on some ridiculously self-righteous pretense that I deserved to be treated better when in actuality, I deserve to be dead; when in actuality, I deserve to have been ruined by the lies that were told on me last year; when in actuality, I deserve to be friendless because of some of the stupid things I did last year; when in actuality I should be getting drunk, high, or out sleeping with someone to deal with the confusion in my life….I got what I got, not necessarily what I felt I deserved, but what I got. There’s nothing I can do to change what occurred in the past by someone else or myself, but I can change how I react now.
Holding grudges from 2013 is the perfect recipe for ruining God’s opened doors for me in 2014, and I will not let that happen.
Last night, after Watch Night, I took a step in the direction of forgiveness, and I hope you all will too. From today on, chose to love others with the love of Christ – which includes showing true forgiveness. Forgive like your life depended on it….the truth is, our quality of life does. Grudges are weight. We can’t operate with grudges, so let them go.
Happy New Year everyone! Thanks for reading. 🙂