We all experience hurt in relationships. Hurt in relationships complicates life. Complicated relationships complicate our lives- the way we think about ourselves, others, our relationship to God, and the way we live our lives. We all deal with these complications in various ways.
We like to find diversions or distractions. I saw a boat last week named, “Sane Asylum”. We may run away from relationships and situations. We become drop-outs, dropping out of relationships and life in general. Some of us are fix-it people. We try fix situations and people. This often leads to our attempt to control the complicated. Others look for something to buy, something, to eat, something to drink, something to abuse for pleasure. Some of us try to create comfortable places where we are secure by complaining, whining, gossipping, etc.
Whatever means we use to create comfortable spaces in the presence of hurt and complicated lives, we are uncomfortable with ourselves, others, our relationship to God and life in general. Yet, we struggle to know what to do. Do I continue the relationship? Do I forgive? How do I forgive? And if I do, what is the relationship going to look like?
Giving forgiveness is necessary in a hurting complicated world. We all need a foundation of forgiveness to give forgiveness. When life began in the Garden of Eden there was no need for forgiveness. Adam and Eve were not sinning against God. They were not hurting one another. We can’t imagine such a place. But when man sinned against God there was loss. Adam and Eve’s distrust, disobedience and rebellion complicated life. They began a life of self love, self protection, living for and serving self, rather than loving God and others. All sons of Adam and daughters of Eve have walked the same road and brought about hurt and misery..
The foundation for forgiveness and the healing of hurt is revealed in the words of God. In the midst of hurt and loss God speaks life. He does so from the very beginning of the Scriptures, until his words of life and love find fulfillment in Jesus Christ. God unveils a loving rescue plan in his Word for all those in sin and hurt by sin.
Sin and its effects could not be ignored. God promised to punish sin in another, the seed of the woman (Gen.3:15), who is his servant (Isa.52:13). This servant would bear our griefs, carry our sorrows, and be stricken and afflicted by God. This servant would be pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. He would be wounded for our healing. It would be God’s will to crush him and have him put to grief as he would by his righteous life crucified upon a cross make an offering for our guilt (Isa.53:4-11). He became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2Cor.5:21).
Forgiveness of sins is found in none other than Jesus Christ, the suffering servant, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification (Rom.4:25). God’s loving rescue plan began at our greatest point of loss and is fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the foundation of our receiving and giving forgiveness.
When we find that we have done nothing for our loss and can do nothing for our hurt but trust the one who suffered the greatest loss and hurt for us, then we have a foundation for forgiveness. His forgiveness comes first and ours is like his as we follow as his children by faith in Jesus Christ. (Eph.4:32)
There will be a time once again where life will not hurt and the complications will shut out. There will be a time when we don’t have to forgive. But it’s not now. The present is the time for receiving and giving forgiveness. The foundation of our giving forgiveness is the receiving of God’s toward us in Christ Jesus. Our hearts must be changed by his grace each day if we are able to pray each day, “Our Father in heaven…forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
We live each day believing that our performance for the day will determine the verdict we desire. But in life in Christ it is his performance each day that gets us the verdict we do not deserve. His verdict is spoken each day in the courtroom of heaven over all who trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. That verdict is, “Not Guilty” (Rom.8:1). In the heavenly courtroom there is nothing that can separate a person from the love of God in Christ (Rom.8:33-34, 39). It is this verdict, this foundation that enables us to perform forgiveness in hurtful and complicated situations.
If forgiveness is not usually your first response to those who have hurt you, this is a warning sign. It is a flashing light that you have lost sight of God’s forgiveness of you. It is signal that your faith is in something else- your performance, record, reputation or rights. It is barrier in the road to life warning you that you have become the judge as you have lost sight of the grace of God freely given. You have drifted from the foundation, the Cornerstone who is Jesus Christ and God’s righteousness and love demonstrated to you in him.
The first step to giving forgiveness is receiving it. Therefore, we must return in the kindness of God to admit we need forgiveness. It is this humble admission that leads to joy in God and freedom to forgive others. We are then free to give what we have received.