Forgiveness. It has always sounded a bit trite to me - that forgiveness is for you, not to person you are forgiving. I have reminded myself of this thought many times. But, it just seems to lay there on the surface, never really moving into my soul. So you can imagine my thought as we began the journey along this chapter about forgiveness. ”Oh great”, I thought, “here we go…forgiveness…blah blah blah”.
Only…this time it was different. Wendy, and the words God has given her…they blew me out of the water. As I read through the chapter, one short sentence captivated me, “Forgiveness set her free”.
Forgiveness and freedom are stuck together like gum in your hair. They get all tangled up, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t separate them. There are too many strands that are binding them together.
What would be the point of Christ dying on the cross to forgive our sins, if it did not lead to freedom? They cannot be separated. His death equaled our life. His suffering equaled our freedom. It is impossible to live in bondage when you fully accept the truth of Christ’s love and forgiveness.
But what about when it comes to us forgiving other people?
You see, our forgiveness came with a price tag, the death of God’s one and only son. It was only dismissed because He paid the price. Now that just doesn’t make sense economically, the one who owed nothing paid the price for the one who owed everything. If anyone should have paid the price for sin, it was us, but we did not.
If anyone should have paid the price for Wendy’s rape, it was her rapist. But here’s the thing, God paid the price for her rapist as well. As much as it stings, his price has been paid, just as her price has been paid. And ultimately it’s up to us to accept the offering of forgiveness that He gives us.
Christ did not die out of something that He owed us. He did not owe anyone anything…but he loved us, so he set us free.
You do not owe the one who hurt you anything.
You do not owe God anything, the price He paid for your sin can never be repaid no matter what you do…it cannot be bought or earned.
But…you can spend years trapped in bondage of unforgiveness refusing to follow the example Christ has set for you and staking a claim in your own freedom but refusing to believe it is offered to anyone else. The problem with this arises when you realize that you are also refusing to let yourself go free.
The freedom message of the cross does not choose sides, it floods everyone. There is no wrong or right when it comes to forgiveness, it is love, it just is. It is because it needs to be. It chooses no exclusions, because true love unconditional love, covers all sin.
So how then do you forgive when your heart doesn’t feel the love? When all your heart feels is anger and hate? You choose to let go of the anger. You choose to let the punishment come when judgment comes, knowing that Christ has forgiven you, that you have been blessed with freedom, and that this freedom gift is not to be hoarded, no matter what the circumstances. You offer up your forgiveness as a peace offering you your Lord, not because it gets you into heaven, because it keeps you from living in your own private hell. Forgiveness, it really isn’t just for you, it is for everyone, it is what washes us clean, and it is entangled hopelessly to our freedom.