The Christian living site of Pastor Jim Piper, Jr.

The Gift Of Forgiveness: Part 2

November 05, 2012 :: Jim Piper, Jr.

Most followers of Jesus know they should be people of forgiveness. They understand the need to be forgiven and yet struggle to forgive others. The process begins once we embrace the idea and engage our will to be people of grace.

But the question of “how” remains. Many have said, “I know I need to forgive and I want to pardon those who have hurt me but I don’t know how. How do I forgive those who don’t deserve it?” It’s a legitimate question.

When we arrive at the intersection of forgiveness and justice, a righteous sense of anger collides with the virtue of mercy. On one hand, something inside tells us justice needs to take its course. On the other hand, we know we are called to be people of mercy. There is a place where the two can meet: mourning.

Get Real, Get Radical

The first step after embracing the call to forgive is to mourn. I don’t mean, “Good morning” but mourning as in grieving. Mourning is a tool God has given to reconnect us with reality, to separate us from fantasy and untruths. We mourn the reality of loss. How does this relate to forgiveness?

Hebrews 9.22 explains: In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

In 21st century language, the principles of the universe demand justice to be served. In Old Testament times, animals were sacrificed for the forgiveness or covering of sins. Often, this was a lamb. Scripture describes Jesus Christ as the ultimate or perfect “Lamb of God.” Justice was appeased in ancient days through the blood of innocent animals; it is forever satisfied through the blood of Christ.

Both examples are graphic. Sin is so serious, blood is spilled, and life is destroyed. It was not a pretty scene watching the blood of an animal spill out, and it was most horrifying to watch a sinless man be crucified on a cross for the sins of all mankind. God has created a vivid picture and the need to mourn.

Mourning is related to forgiveness because it contemplates the reality of the human condition. We are a fallen people. We hurt one another because we practice selfishness more than we care to admit. We have internal needs we try to meet in unhealthy ways. We lack the capacity to deal with the needs of those around us and we struggle connecting with others because of all that separates us. In other words, we need to get real and recognize we live in a fallen world and pain is one of the outcomes. It’s sad but true; getting hurt is what we do. Hurting people often hurt people. It’s the cycle of sin.

As we mourn the condition of the world, we become less condemning. We look for help and mercy. We open ourselves to God. We revisit good theology and remember the reason Jesus gave his life for us. Christ, God in the flesh, the sinless, received the justice of God to become a bridge between God and us. He is the bridge of forgiveness that restores our fellowship with God and man. Mourning the condition of the world will give you the strength to walk through the first two steps of forgiveness:

  • 1. Get Real. Stop becoming so shocked about how others have hurt you. It’s the way of the world. Let your pain drive you to God and let Christ be birthed in your soul. He will heal your wounds and strengthen you to practice the next step.
  • 2. Get Radical. Intentionally, willfully, and joyfully extend forgiveness! Forgiveness is radical. You have to surrender yourself to God and let his radical love, mercy, and grace be extended through you so that the world might know that Jesus Christ is alive and well living in and through you!

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