I had an epiphany about forgiveness today. Does true forgiveness only come from what God defines as the actual offense? Does all forgiveness stem from Christ’s own forgiveness and our agreement with what He has forgiven?
Forgiving My Personal Wounds
Just like everyone else, things can offend me. Tickle my sensitivity bone and offense flares up – “How dare you!” And what I am usually offended by is my personal ‘ouchie.’ But on the totem pole of offenses, my personal offense doesn’t rank very high. It’s usually an, “Ow, that hurts ME!” without a recognition of the true motive of why it was done. In this case, my offense is about the effects on me and how it made me feel more than what was done and why.
God often defines my offenses much higher than I do. For example I say, “You hurt my feelings,” but God defines it for me as, “They scorned the Life of Christ in you.” If I go about forgiving based on my feelings of being hurt, I possibly miss the true offense altogether, an offense against God Himself. Whoa! This changes everything! That means I would’ve never truly forgiven the actual offense. God is the diagnostician and definer of offenses and then He brings forth His forgiveness.
I have to be honest, many of my personal offenses center on and revolve around me. It’s how it hurt me, how it affected me and what it cost me—me, me, and me. The problem with this is that my life is no longer about me. My life is not my own, nor are my offenses mine to defend. My life belongs to Another, and so offenses are about Him.
I’m not exactly saying, “I am God’s, so take it up with Him…” What I am saying is that if I want to be a forgiver, I not only have to inquire of Him about what the offense is but also receive from His Life His forgiveness. This shocks me a bit because I know I have gone through most of my life forgiving my personal offenses and not being a vessel of His forgiveness for His offenses.
Recently I took offense about something. At first it was about ME, but then when I sat and listened to the Lord, I found that it had nothing to do with me. What I was offended by was paltry and petty in comparison to the actual offense. After God had defined what was actually done, my offense just dissolved as insignificant.
Fountain of Forgiveness
I want to live as a fountain of His forgiveness—that is the Life of Christ! But to do this with any eternal significance, I must listen to God about offenses and receive His forgiveness as THE Forgiver. His diagnosis of offenses are always heavenly minded. Though the offense may be towards my person, the solution is Higher than just personal feelings or my forgiveness. Forgiveness concerns God’s offense, and forgiveness emanates from God’s forgiving. Forgiveness is from God.
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
Micah 7:18-19 NIV