What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? Although it’s likely you’ve received some lovely tangible gifts, your mind probably goes to gifts that have touched your heart, brought you joy, such as people and circumstances in your life. But did your mind immediately recall the forgiveness from a friend? It wasn’t my first thought, however after pondering this question, I believe forgiveness is the best gift any of us has to give or will ever receive.
What is forgiveness? Why is it essential?
It’s not denying the hurt caused, it’s not excusing the sin. Forgiveness is acknowledging the offense, surrendering the resentment felt against the offender -however justified - and releasing the person from any reprisal.
The need for forgiveness is universal. We live in a fallen world where we will offend and be offended, unknowingly, accidentally, sometimes intentionally. We will sin and be sinned against. Our humans response to hurt is to hold the person “in our debt”. Our heart becomes hardened, our relationships cooled if not lost.
It’s essential because the choice not to forgive only serves to imprison us. In essence, we give the offense/offender control over our well-being: over our emotions, our physical health and our relationship with our Creator. Refusal to forgive is disobedience to God. On the other hand, the choice to forgive is a choice for freedom –for both the offender and the injured.
How can we forgive? Especially those deep wounds caused by others or even ourselves? Only in the power of the Spirit by surrendering our bitterness and leaving the consequences to His perfect judgment. It’s not easy, but if we are willing to forgive, the Spirit will enable us.
Why should we forgive? Because we are forgiven (see Col 3:13). The basis of forgiveness is agape - love that expects nothing in return. We show our love for God when we pardon others. This is precisely how God loves us, “…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Indeed, the greatest gift we can receive - and give - is the forgiveness from our Best Friend, Jesus. What joy and freedom we have from this gift…and in the Giver!
-Kathi Fritz (a wonderfully forgiving and completely forgiven member of Crown of Beauty)