As 2013 draws to a close and 2014 begins, it is more important to me than ever before to look at my life, my actions, my thoughts, my prayers, my goals, everything I am doing and evaluate it in light of God’s word.  In light of God’s word, in light of the mercy and grace extended to me through Christ, what am I doing well, but most importantly what am I not doing well.   In what areas of my life am I refusing to be obedient to Christ?

Let me not be a stumbling block for those that are seeking, wondering, or leering at Christ.  May they not look at my life and say “if that is Christ-like love, I don’t want any part of that.”

So, today, it seems appropriate, to talk about forgiveness.

For those that don’t know or don’t remember, this blog was supposed to be a 40 day challenge to myself starting on my 40th birthday which was March 25th of 2013.  On that birthday, I made a list of different challenges I knew I needed to face or try.  Some were fairly simple and others were quite challenging.  Forgiveness has been on the list since day one.

Why has it taken me so long to write about it?

Let’s be real.  This is a hard one.  I know what the bible says, but I don’t want to do it.  Once I write about it, once I put it out here, I have to face it. And, truthfully, there are some people that I don’t want to forgive nor do I know how to forgive them.

I know that isn’t good. I know that isn’t what God says to do, but that is what I feel like doing.  I’m irritated with them, most of them don’t show any remorse, and I flat out do not want to forgive them.  It’s pretty plain a simple.  Some of them have done pretty heinous things and others have done more minor things.  Either way, I have taken their transgression very personally and I don’t want much to do with them anymore.

As I write this, I know I have forgiven some people of some pretty significant sins and so I wonder why these other transgressions, that aren’t actually as serious, are harder to let go.  The difference is remorse.  The people I am having the most trouble forgiving are those that don’t seem to be sorry for what they have done.

I am guessing a lot of people can relate to this.  I mean we have all heard the saying, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.”  No one wants to be the fool twice no matter how big or small the transgression.  And, if someone isn’t sorry about what they have done, the chances of it happening again are fairly high.   I can forgive you one time, but if I have to forgive you twice, I am a fool and I failed to learn what a crappy person you are the first time.

Right?  That is what conventional wisdom would say.  You need to protect yourself, because no one else is going to protect you.

No, that doesn’t make my decision right.  That doesn’t make my inability to forgive them okay.  I know, in my gut that isn’t the right answer.  It feels bad to hold onto that bitterness and I can feel my spirit, my soul being tainted.

Everyone knows that some people deserve to be forgiven.  Who and for what, is subject to any one person’s opinion.  But it is also a fairly acceptable notion that some people do not deserve to be forgiven.  We can certainly all sympathize with certain wrongs being unforgiveable especially the big ones like adultery and murder.

As a believer, if I believe that or even if I just hold onto that because I don’t want to let it go, I am believing a lie and being disobedient to the God of the universe…the one who created us all, knows all, and wants the very best for us all.  As a Christian, I am called to forgive and not just some times.

I learned long ago that refusing to forgive someone creates a huge bitter burden to carry.  It eats away at the peace and love I should be experiencing and be able to share with others.  So, why is it still so hard to forgive even when I know it is the best thing?

I don’t know. I am sure there are a lot of reasons.  But honestly, the reasons don’t matter.  The bible matters and what Jesus says matters.  That is what matters.

I think most of us know what the bible says about forgiveness, but I’m just going to reiterate it, because honestly, I can’t remind myself enough.

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Up to seven times?’  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”  Matthew 18:21-22.

I’ll be honest.  I don’t really like that.  I mean, as much as I love people, sometimes they really, really tick me off and I don’t want to forgive them.  God, don’t you get it?  I don’t want to, I don’t want to, I don’t want to. I don’t want to grant them forgiveness, especially more than once.

But Jesus says to do it over and over again.  After all, He forgives us over and over again.  I get it.  I’ve heard that before.  But now I have to fight against my own will because something deep inside me says NO.  Like what is the point?

Well, I think Jesus kind of gets to the point in another verse.  When I read things like this, I realize how relevant the Bible is.  I realize that even thousands of years ago, that from the beginning of time, God knew what would happen.  These are the verses that confirm to me the reality, the truth of the Bible and Christ.

“You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’”  Matthew 5:43. 

This is what we grow up believing right?!  Especially as adults when we get a little cynical, when we get hardened by the wrongs of a sinful people, this seems so clearly the right way to do life.  But there is nothing amazing or remarkable about that and Jesus knows it so much better than we do.

“But I tell you:  Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others?  Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect.”  Matthew 5:44-48

Yeah, I am doing nothing extraordinary, nothing remarkable, nothing overly Christ-like by merely loving those that love me.  EVERYONE loves those that love them.  It’s easy to love those that love you.  It’s extraordinary, remarkable, awesome, amazing and Christ-like to love those that are hard to love especially those who have wronged us.

It is hard to love our enemies.  That’s what makes it remarkable and impressive.  That’s what makes it worthy of Christ and will draw others to Christ.

Do I really want to be like Christ?  Do I want people to see Christ through me or not?  If I do, I need to be awesome.

Recently I have become enthralled with the definition of awesome.  This word has been overused, I know, but when you know the actually definition, it is exactly how I want to live my life.

Awesome:  awe·some,

Extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear.

Being a Christian is awesome.  It might be daunting.  Forgiving and loving our enemies is daunting.  The tasks laid before us might elicit some apprehension.  But, the love of God is extremely impressive….IF people can see it.  If people can tell the difference between human love and the love that Christ demonstrated and calls us to.

Be awesome today.

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