Forgive Offenses Willingly
Week 4 | Spiritual Work of Mercy
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31–32)
Willingly is not the same thing as easily. First, it means that a person is not forced into choosing forgiveness because of a lack of options. We can probably all think of situations in which we were forced to keep a person in our life, whether a coworker, a family member, or a spouse, and that relationship ultimately festered. Forgiveness was not willed; the offense was merely ignored as long as possible.
Real forgiveness has to come from a place of strength. While there are real injuries, real offenses, and real victims, as long as a person sees himself as merely a victim, he will never be able to forgive. Not because he doesn’t want to or isn’t good enough to offer forgiveness, but because mercy can only be offered by someone who acknowledges his own dignity as well as the weight of the offense to his dignity.
The one who truly forgives has made the decision to tell the truth. She is willing to tell the truth about herself: while not perfect, she is essentially good. She is worthy of love. She did not deserve to be hurt or used or degraded the way she was. She is also willing to tell the truth about what the offense cost her.
If a person has not discovered this truth—this strength—his act of mercy will often (if not always) be an act of a doormat. Doormats allow people to walk all over them because they lack the strength or ability to do anything else. A Christian who offers forgiveness may absorb another person’s act of callousness or injustice, but he does this through an act of the will, aided by God’s grace and strength.
Excerpt taken from Chapter 13 of Beautiful Mercy. Get your free copy of the book (just pay shipping).
The Our Father is an incredibly powerful prayer. It is also full of wisdom.
Pray the Our Father slowly, and let the words “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” sink deep into your heart.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.