Today in church one of our other pastors spoke because our senior pastor is out of town. I love my senior pastor, but I also enjoy these few weeks when we get to hear from our other pastors. Pastor Matt got to speak today, and we spent the service in Ephesians 4:25-32 with an emphasis on Forgiveness.
When we first started, I figured okay this was cool, but not super applicable to me right now. I know that you shouldn’t hold grudges or be angry towards someone. I grew up learning to say “I forgive you” even if you didn’t feel it.
But about halfway through, I realized how wrong I was in assuming it wasn’t applicable. In typical God fashion when he deals with my know-it-all attitude, he gently reminded me of some unforgiveness in my life which had without my conscious knowledge had turned into bitterness and anger to someone who used to mean a lot to me.
Sitting in church, I realized that a situation that I thought was resolved really wasn’t. The actions of the person had hurt me, and I hadn’t forgiven him. My frustration and anger at him festered in my heart, and I wanted nothing to do with him in my life. I knew I should forgive him, but I didn’t want to simply because he hadn’t asked me for forgiveness. I figured that I wasn’t doing anything wrong, but I really was. I was holding all this anger and bitterness at someone instead of loving and showing the love of God in my actions.
This realization all can to a head when our pastor, Pastor Matt, said that forgiveness is not a feeling, but it is an action. You don’t forgive people because we feel like it. We forgive because that is the command that God has given us. When we forgive and obey, the feelings come.
And sometimes, forgiveness feels impossible. Someone may have wronged you in a way that took something that you will never get back. You lost a relationship. But despite the hurt that you may feel, forgiveness is vital. In those moments when forgiveness feels impossible, God gives a way. It is through his strength that we forgive. And we forgive because He showed us such incredible forgiveness in the sacrifice of His Son on the cross.
So despite how bitterness may feel or unforgiveness may feel, we must forgive in we are to keep our Christian community healthy and to keep our spiritually life healthy. I still struggle with it, but I pray that everyday, I get a little better at it.
Check out Matthew West’s song Forgiveness.