We are completely forgiven.
Not partially, but completely. And it’s not because of anything we did or failed to do, it’s completely because of Jesus. Through forgiveness we have been set free from all that we have done and have yet to do because we are engulfed in the love of Christ.
The book of Matthew in chapter 18 focuses on this concept of forgiveness and in particular, emphasizes on how we are to extend it towards others.
I recently went through a season of learning how to completely forgive the way Jesus has forgave me for everything past, present, and future. And I can’t say that it was easy to fully embrace this in my heart, but we are called to love like Jesus. Now, the only way I learned this was to completely surrender the storm to Him and seek clarity and guidance from Him. Which all came in a flood as I read Matthew 18.
I think we sometimes fail to realize the power that forgiveness holds, not just towards a situation but in the spirit, as well. The longer we hold onto an issue, the more we dig into what the flesh wants and lean less into what Jesus is bringing us towards. I think that a lot of the times we do this because we are not receiving the childlike, which is a point discussed in Matthew 18. In times of trouble, we have the choice to receive Jesus – which is also the same as receiving the childlike, or turn away from it.
As I read Matthew 18:2-9 I realized what this is all about – when it comes to forgiving those who have caused you pain. See, children are so beautifully simple and pure. They are completely accepting and forgiving moments after someone they deeply love has hurt them. They love without limits. When reflecting in these verses I began to ask myself if this was the way I was carrying the pain caused or if I was simply letting it fester and grow bigger. I continued to read this chapter and as it talks about situations causing one to stumble a question came into mind – am I allowing the pain caused by others make me stumble and turn away from receiving the childlike? Am I allowing it to stop me from extending love and forgiveness towards others?
Friends, let me tell you that if what you are holding onto is keeping you from seeing that you are forgiven and stop you from forgiving others, you need to cut it out completely. Let it go and forgive.
Matthew 18:15-17 MSG
“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.”
Think about this: We have turned away from Jesus time and time again. We have sinned, even unconsciously and yet He still forgives, no matter how many times we fail. Do you know how to love others in this way?
Don’t make matters worse by holding onto the hurt and pain. Don’t allow the temptation of speaking ill of another lead way into your life because of ill words spoken towards you. But instead extend a hand and always offer Gods forgiving love.
The Parable of the Merciful Servant speaks of the forgiveness we are shown by Jesus.
Matthew 18: 21-28
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times? 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go…”
This is a story about forgiveness. The king could have simply become angry and hurt the servant, but he showed forgiveness in the same way that Jesus forgives us. The Kingdom of Heaven is like this story. Our debts have been canceled by the forgiveness, mercy, and love shown unto us by Christ.
Take this to heart: We must freely forgive as we have been freely forgiven.
You Are Loved.
words by Alexis Johnson and photo by Ivy Hansen