Last week, I posted something on my Instagram and Facebook pages about a true story from my life. For the sake of privacy and respect of my family, some details are left out. Below, is what I wrote in my post…
… Back when “Passion of the Christ” came out, the scene at the Last Supper was so impactful to me. One of the last commands, that goes hand in hand with loving each other, was to FORGIVE others as Christ forgave us. I was holding a major, hateful grudge toward a family member. I began crying because I realized my sin. How could I receive forgiveness and selfishly keep it to myself; not extending it to others?
Lie: Some people should not be forgiven…
Some things cannot be forgiven.
Truth: If you have received God’s forgiveness, everyone and everything should be forgiven…
I was in college at the time this movie came out. I was attending Cedarville University and growing more in my faith than ever before… but there was something getting in the way of my relationship with God. I knew that my spite and heart of un-forgiveness was wrong, but I felt justified for so many reasons. I was actually having nightmares about this sin of mine. God was really working on my heart. And then… over my Spring Break in 2004… I visited a friend and a group of us went to a theater in Ann Arbor, Michigan. That is where the LORD broke through to me. I saw all that He endured for my sin, to make me clean, to be reunited with Him… and one of the last things He asked before His death was for His followers to forgive as He forgave. He went to His death for me… and He forgives me. How could I hold back forgiveness from anyone? How hypocritical would that be?
All my justifications burst into a million pieces. I knew I had to make things right with God… which meant making things right with that person. Here is the thing…
It is NOT easy to do this.
I struggled through this high calling for years. There were many difficult things, and I will not go through all of them for sake of protection of my family, but one thing I will speak to is the fear that the person you forgive thinks that what they did is okay… or that other people think that you forgiving means that you support the person’s actions.
Forgiveness does NOT equal support of others’ behavior. Forgiveness does NOT mean you are ok with what happened. Forgiveness does NOT mean you completely forget the past. Forgiveness does NOT mean you pretend like nothing bad happened.
I love the way Pastor James MacDonald explains forgiveness…
“Forgiveness is the decision to release a person from the obligation that resulted when he injured you. When you injure others, knowingly or unknowingly, you create an obligation. You take something from them: their time, money, pride, or dignity. And if you take something … then you owe him. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that nobody pays that price. It actually means that the one granting forgiveness pays…
If I choose to release someone through forgiveness, I pay the debt. I absorb it. I cover it. I forego what is rightfully due to me. I release the person from what he owes. I pay. Not unlike how, when God forgives, God pays. That’s the story of the gospel, isn’t it? I have a sin debt I can never pay, and Jesus pays it for me”
You cannot discriminate because God did not discriminate.
You cannot worry about how the person who receives the forgiveness will interpret you forgiving them.
You cannot worry about how others will interpret your forgiveness of the wrong-doer.
What matters is keeping to what God asks you to do. If you have truly received God’s forgiveness, I do not think it is possible to withhold it from others. When you have God’s forgiveness, you know that you did not deserve it… you know that He expects you to be His ambassador, to be a living testimony, to who God is. What better way to show God’s love than to extend His forgiveness to others?! And God has surely and WILL surely bring justice to that person. That is HIS job… not yours.
Furthermore… God is SO good that when we choose to forgive, our souls are released from a heavy burden and weight that is scientifically proven to exist when we harbor hate and resentment. Holding grudges is disastrous to our mental well-being. Hate can consume us and make us depressed, anxious, un-trusting, distracted, unsettled, and physically sick. God asks us to forgive, not just so the other person sees God’s love, but so that we are set free from anguish.
So if you are reading this and you are not a Christian or believe in God’s commands (thanks for staying with me!)… there is still legitimacy in forgiving those who harm you… Set yourself free from psychological and physical ailment inflicted from withholding forgiveness from those who have harmed you.
So who are you not extending forgiveness to?
I would love to help you start your process of forgiveness. It is a process and takes time, but you can start today. Comment below with your story or email me at JillianRedefiningWellness@gmail.com for help with embracing the idea of forgiving or taking that first step.