There Is Joy When We Forgive

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Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
Matthew 18:21-22 NKJV

When I first read this verse, I couldn’t imagine why Jesus would tell Peter to forgive someone that many times. Surely walking away is a better plan than playing Charlie Brown to Lucy and her football for years on end! Yes, I was that arrogant. And no, I didn’t recognize the audacity of my ingratitude to begrudge forgiving others when I had been forgiven tenfold the amount. (The parable that follows directly after Jesus’ answer to Peter should have been titled, “Jennifer’s Story.”) The more the Holy Spirit teaches me about forgiveness, the more I see how limited my understanding of it has truly been. Forgiveness is a much deeper well than I ever suspected, and the joy that follows is greater all the time.

Joy in Humility

Joy in Humility
In a post I wrote a few years ago, I touched on the ridiculous virtues that I originally attributed to myself when I “deigned” to forgive. In reality, the act of forgiving is the opposite of ennobling—it’s incredibly humbling. When I forgive someone who’s hurt me, I do so because I know that I’ve hurt others in the past and likely will again in the future. I forgive them because my own forgiveness is on the line. Once I acknowledge that, I find myself sitting right beside the one who wronged me. Then we’re just two frail humans in desperate need of grace. It’s hard to feel puffed up under those circumstances. I rather think that’s why God set it up that way. That and the quiet joy that accompanies new humility.

Forgiveness is a deep work sometimes. The more painful the wound, the harder it is for me to receive the reality of that pain and let go of my lust for justice and/or revenge. It took time for me to learn that just saying the words did nothing. I had to exercise my will and choose to forgive. Then I was moving in the right direction. It was just the beginning, however. When I say, “receive the reality,” I mean revisiting the pain, whatever it may be, with the Holy Spirit. Until He shows me what happened, I can’t truly know what it is I am forgiving. The wounds haven’t always been what I thought they were. That’s a real blow to my belief that I at least know the nature of my hurt. (One day, I hope I will not be so astonished at how little I know!)

The Joy of Being Clean

The Joy of Being Clean
Letting go of the big hurts was a true wrestling match for me. It would be more accurate to say that I hurled my hurts at Jesus’ feet because my surrender was no less dramatic than my wrestling. “Letting go” isn’t necessarily a calm and peaceful enterprise— it can be downright violent. But when the storm had passed, I was always rewarded with the peace of Jesus Himself. And His joy! I experienced the indescribable joy of being clean from the inside out. I was free of the nagging torment that had been with me so long that it had become my “normal.” The first time I stood before God clean-hearted and without pain, I thought, “People would kill each other in broad daylight to get their hands on this state of being if it could be bottled!” Such is the immediate reward of forgiveness.

But that’s not the end. With time comes a gift unlike any other, one that requires its own post to even begin to do it justice. The joy of forgiving was just the beginning.

Comments:

Posted by Linda Shimp
November 22, 2016 at 10:01 am

The Holy Spirit is really doing a work on forgiveness and this is another one of those ‘wow’ moments from the Holy Spirit. Love it Jen!

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Posted by Cindy Pollard
June 8, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Timely word. Someone I highly value completely devalued me. I see the enemy behind it. I see the cross in it. But as I am forgiving them, God is showing up by giving me new direction. How amazing His goodness!

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Posted by virginia
June 8, 2014 at 3:27 pm

DEAREST SISTER, PRAISE GOD FOR THE MIGHTY WORK GOD HAS AND IS DOING IN ALL OUR LIVES. THIS A MESSAGE THAT ALL OF HIS CHILDREN NEED TO READ. PROFOUND AND CLEANSING. THANK YOU DEAR ONE, I HAD TO FORGIVE SOME ONE WHO WOUNDED ME DEEPLY, BUT UNCONDITINAL LOVE NEVER GOES AWAY, EVEN THOUGH THAT BOTHER DEEPLY WOUNDED ME. I PRAISE GOD THAT AFTER 8 YEARS PEACE CAME AND FORGINESS WAS GIVEN. THOUGH, FOR 8 YEARS I NEVER STOPED LOVING THEM. TODAY I TRULY KNOW THAT “LOVE NEVER FAILS”THANK YOU JESUS FOR YOUR LOVE AND TEACHINGS OF YOUR WORD.

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Posted by Joanna
June 7, 2014 at 9:18 am

Your words struck my heart when you said:

“It took time for me to learn that just saying the words did nothing, but if I exercised my will and chose to forgive, then I was moving in the right direction…. however. When I say, “receive the reality,” I mean revisiting the PAIN, whatever or whoever it may be, with the Holy Spirit. Until He shows me what happened, I can’t truly know what it is I am forgiving.”

How can I truly know what I’m forgiving? The pain must be revisited. I can’t just say the words:p I must alow my Jesus to heal the wounds deep down.
Thank you!

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Posted by Liquidglory@hotmail.com
June 7, 2014 at 7:05 am

I love this… I so needed it today. It was a gentle reminder from the Holy spirit…I have been dealing with so much at work. Thank you..

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Posted by Pauline
June 6, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Jen, I wonder about our plea for forgiveness that is not acknowledged and/or rejected. Seems that “receiving the reality” and “letting go” don’t produce the same level of peace and joy you describe without reconciliation. Maybe the reconciliation is more for myself than for Jesus Christ. Ahh, I remember a quote from Martha, something along the lines: “Forgiveness is . . . accepting God’s sovereign use of people and situations to strip you of self-importance and humiliate your self-love.” (She doesn’t pull any punches, does she?!–it’s one of the reasons we love her!) Maybe I need to get down to acceptance of God’s sovereignty first . . . just when I think: “I’ve got that one checked off,” He shows me, as you noted in your post: how little I know.
Thank you, for letting Christ use you today to bless me, Jennifer.

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Posted by Sam
June 6, 2014 at 10:28 am

“Well, in reality, the act of forgiving is the opposite of ennobling—it’s incredibly humbling.”

It is, because it is the enabling of Christ.

And you are blessed, Jen.

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