The Selfless Love of Forgiveness

Forgiveness.

Something that we need to have a discussion about.

One time, someone told me, “Christina, why did you drop the trial? Why didn’t you throw the person who harmed you in prison? Why were you weak,” and I understand the people who ask this. I understand how some people would think I was weak to end the court case by allowing the family member that did abuse the most me to take a plea of a year probation and anger management. However, on the other hand, without Christ, I am weak, but that’s not the direction of this conversation.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Did I have “the right” to be angry, to throw that person in prison, to shake my fists and say, “Look what you did to me?” In some aspects, yes, I did, but that’s not what Christ did to me as He was hanging on a cross with the sins of the world upon His shoulders. Christ, both God and man while also being perfect and Holy, never shook His fists and never once said, “Look what you did to me” as He was being beaten, mocked, and rejected. Instead, Jesus begged for God to forgive the people around due to them not knowing what they have done.

That speaks volumes.

In the end, if Christ forgave me and died for me, then I should show the same grace as Christ to others who forsake me or hurt me.

However, let me be the first to admit;  it wasn’t easy to forgive at first, nor am I perfect. Trust me, healing was a journey, and I went through many stages to get to that forgiveness stage, and it took many times reading Lamentations to get to that point, but when I finally reached that stage of forgiveness, it was life-breathing, and that is my life statement now.

My life statement is to forgive even if they don’t deserve it, love people even if they don’t meet all the conditions, and love selflessness as He loved me.

Forgiveness is a touchy subject in our current culture, for it seems as if we live in a generation where we justify not forgiving while bringing up the wrongdoings of another person to justify the lack of forgiveness in our hearts, but then I look at Christ and I think, “He never did that to us.” Christ never cut us off, but instead, He made a way when we didn’t deserve a way, and the Lord forgives us, He remembers our sins no more and creates new beauty out of us. 

Instead of being harsh, the Lord looked at us and loved us in our darkest, He knew us by name, not by shame, and He loved and gave grace even though we are all sinners who do not deserve an ounce of grace, and yet we live in a very entitled era that believes in burning bridges, in refusing forgiveness, and we live in an era that defines each other by our wrongdoings rather than by the grace and mercy of Jesus.

In the end, be a person who crosses the ocean for those who don’t love you, cross the ocean for those who don’t deserve it, and forgive those who wrong you even if they don’t care, even if they don’t see the need to apologize, and even if they don’t understand why, for forgiveness will set you free and soften your heart.

“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

When we allow the root of bitterness to take place into our hearts, we lose our softness, our tenderness, and our ability to love selflessly as Christ, and I didn’t want that to happen to me. Yes, I was abused, I was treated horribly, and it was by three of my own family members, but I still choose to forgive, for Christ loves them, and I want them to see Christ through me.

I could have chosen the root of bitterness, I could have pushed the law, watched one of them be taken away, and all of the other things, but then I remembered my sin on the cross, my sin that made Christ, perfect in all of His ways, suffer, and I then realized that holding back forgiveness would not free me, but it would only make me a bitter woman who was enslaved to to a lack of forgiveness, and I wanted to be free.

Did they deserve to be let go easily? No, but do I deserve grace, do I deserve mercy, do I deserve to be forgiven by a God who stepped down from His own throne to drink from the cup of wrath? No, so who am I to bring wrath on someone else when Christ didn’t bring wrath down on me?

We live in a generation that doesn’t love people in their imperfections, for we would rather them “change’ to be perfect; therefore, when imperfect people fail, they are instantly cut off and rejected. We are so focused on changing people to what we want rather than loving them and encouraging them to walk the narrow path. When you are more focused on showing them Christ, on loving them like Christ, and on forgiving them like Christ, that will do so much more in their lives than trying to make them perfect, and yet we are so fixated on perfection that forgiveness has no room in our hearts.

“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5  

In the end, people are going to do you wrong, people are going to fail you, for if we can fail Christ daily, then we will most certainly fail each other, so for us to place each other on pedestal is wrong. In some ways, many have forgotten the suffering of Christ, and I feel as if it is becoming more apparent in our society. We have forgotten about the gruesomeness of the cross, the horrific death He went through, the beatings, the mocking, and the betrayal of Jesus, and due to us forgetting what Christ did to us, we aren’t going to want to forgive, for we are so concerned about us in our current day society, that we forgot about Him.

What if Christ looked at us and said, “You did this to me,” so I am not forgiving you?

What if Christ looked at us and said, “I am not giving them grace, for look at what they are doing?”

What if Christ treated us the way we treat others?

Now, again, it took me awhile to get to this place, and it wasn’t easy, but when you finally allow unconditional love and forgiveness into your heart, it is freeing, it is life-breathing, and it is beautiful. We need to become soft in heart again, and we need to take ourselves of of the picture, for the more you hold back forgiveness, the more hardened your heart becomes.

Lamentations is one of my favorite books in the Bible, and I do apologize if I mention it to much, but I love it so much. The book is about brokenness, grief, sin, despair, unworthiness, dirtiness, the darkness, and everything you can imagine. The city deserved to burn, the city deserved “this” and “that,” but in the end, the Lord still loved them, the Lord was still faithful, the Lord’s mercies were not consumed, and His mercies were new every single morning, and that is what I want my life testament to be.

I want to love so passionately and never-ending that I love even if someone is doesn’t deserve it. I want to love so selflessly that I don’t care if it benefits me, but I just care about breathing in Jesus and exhaling grace, and I want to so passionately reflect Christ and His goodness, that I want to take myself out of the picture, and focus on Christ. If the Lord can go into my darkness, leave the 99, and rescue me from the pit of despair, then I can forgive those who hurt me, I can forgive those who are not perfect, and I can forgive anyone, for Christ died so that we could be free, not condemned.

“She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.” Proverbs 31:26

I want to be soft, I want to be tender, I want to be a woman who crosses the oceans, the sea, and the valley for others, and I want to be like Christ, for if He can step down from His throne for a sinner like me, then I want to be like Him, I want to love like Him, and I want to forgive like Him, so I will even if it is hard and even if my flesh tells me different. In the end, I want to love and forgive like Christ, for who I am to hold back forgiveness when the Lord offered it to me?

We need to soften our hearts to grace, we need to outstretch our arms like Christ does to us, and instead of burning bridges and walking away, we need to walk through the fire after each other while never letting of their hand, for while they do not deserve forgiveness, they are still loved by a God who died for them, and so we should love like Him and forgive anyway. 

If someone does you wrong, don’t close your ears, but listen to them, forgive them, pray with them, cry with them, and talk with them, but whatever you do, do not burn a bridge.

If someone doesn’t “deserve forgiveness,” do not turn your back on them and walk away, but cross that ocean for them, walk through the fire after them, and show them the love of Christ by forgiving even if they don’t deserve it, for Christ didn’t walk away from you.

Forgiveness is life-breathing, and if the Lord was still faithful in the fire, if the Lord was  still merciful in Lamentations, and if the Lord stilled loved and had mercy, then we should too. Instead of constantly chasing perfection, we need to soften our hearts to grace, we need to go back to the cross where Christ suffered and realize that we are unworthy, that we are no better, and that we are not the ones to turn our back, for the one who had the right to thrown a stone chose not to throw it.

Put your stone down and open your heart, for even if others “don’t deserve it,” it isn’t about what they deserve or don’t deserve, but it is about grace and selfless love, it is about reflecting Christ and His glory, and it is about dying to ourselves and having Christ live in side of us; therefore forgive and love like Christ in the darkest rather than walking away.

Breathe softness into the lives of others, breathe tenderness, breathe grace, and breathe Jesus, for in the end, Christ loves us, and if He can love us in our darkest, in our shame, in our fire, and in our sin, then who are we to not do the same to others? When you begin to love selfless and forgive as He forgave you, then it is life-breathing, and when I look at all He as done for me, I ask, “How could I not forgive? Therefore, breathe in Jesus, exhale grace, and love others unconditionally without the conditions, for Christ loved even in the darkest, and so should we.

 

 

 

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