When we forgive someone, we secure our own forgiveness. When we choose not to forgive, our own forgiveness is forfeit. In that moment, there is a huge impediment to fellowship with God. Namely, God does not fellowship with sin. Love for sinners? Yes! Union with them? No. So when we do forgive, the joy and peace we feel comes from the removal of hindrances to fellowship. Forgiven and clean, how could we not experience the joy of the Lord in full!
Joy Without Obstacles
In my post “Joy Is Not Foolish,” I wrote this: “Joy is not just an emotion that can be ginned up as circumstances warrant. It is a heavenly state of being.” What does that have to do with forgiveness? Everything.
Psalm 30:5 says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” The dawn of a new day brings joy and hope. Every time I forgive, it’s dawn in my heart. And in that new, fresh, clean dawning, I am in the presence of the Lord, without obstacle. That is the heavenly state of being.
Joy is how I know that my work of forgiveness is bearing fruit. A weight lifts off my shoulders and my heart ceases to be chained to the one who hurt me. Instead I breathe and feel free and know joy. Really know it! I think that forgiveness and repentance must be closely related, because forgiveness takes me to Joel 2:12 (AMPC).
Therefore also now, says the Lord, turn and keep on coming to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning [until every hindrance is removed and the broken fellowship is restored].
The joy that I experience in forgiveness is the bliss of restored fellowship. I am one with the Lord and it’s like being made whole again after being torn apart. It is in every way a heavenly state of being, a oneness that can’t be found anywhere else. It is Christ’s own JOY.
May you each know His joy without hindrance as you celebrate His sovereign reign on Thanksgiving Day!