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We may believe that we can’t forgive someone who harmed us until we “feel” like forgiving them.  But there is one big problem with that… because of our sin nature, we will never FEEL like forgiving.

LIE – WE CAN’T FORGIVE UNTIL WE FEEL LIKE FORGIVING

Our feelings will always scream out for revenge, retaliation and vengeance.  We want the person who hurt us to suffer as we suffered, or even more than we suffered.

God’s Word is crystal clear on this issue.  For us to seek revenge is sin.  (Romans 12:19)  God ALONE has the right and authority to judge the sins of others.  When we seek revenge, we are trying to put ourselves in the place of God.

TRUTH – WE CAN’T LET OUR EMOTIONS RULE OVER US

When our feelings to not line up with God’s truth, we have a critical choice to make.  We can choose to let our feelings dictate our actions, or we can choose to let God’s Truth dictate our actions.  It takes a deliberate commitment on our part to follow God’s Truth and not let our feelings guide our thoughts and actions.

2 Corinthians 5:17  This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

God gives us a new nature when we are saved, but we can still choose to act according to our old nature.

Ephesians 4:24, 26-27  Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy. … And don’t sin by letting anger control you.  Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

We must LEARN to act according to our new nature, and ignore the old one.  We need to surround ourselves with followers of Christ to encourage us and help us in this area.  We ARE all going to be hurt by the words and actions of others.  It is a given that there will be pain, problems, injustice and unfairness in this world.  But God gives us one promise that we can really hold on to:

Romans 8:28  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.

And so… if we truly love Jesus Christ, we must choose to be obedient to Him.

John 14:15  [Jesus]  If you love Me, obey My commandments.

Holly Walczak and the others affected by T.J. Lane’s actions will NEVER feel like forgiving him.  For Holly, forgiveness is COSTLY.  But it will free her from the haunting of the horrific crime against her son.  It will free her from bitterness and allow her to go one with her life.  It will allow God to work in her life, the life of her son, and the life of her family.

LIE:  WE SHOULD ONLY FORGIVE WHEN THE PERSON ASKS FOR FORGIVENESS

T.J. Lane showed no remorse for his actions.  He was arrogant and offensive to the families of the students he murdered.  Does God really expect us to forgive someone who never confesses that their actions were wrong?  Someone who never shows sorrow over the harm they did or acknowledges the hurt they caused?  Someone who never repents and never asks for forgiveness?

Matthew 5:44-45a  But I say, love your enemies! Bless those who curse you.  Do good to those who hate you.  Pray for those who persecute you!  In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.

TRUTH – THERE CAN BE “ONE-SIDED” FORGIVENESS

Matthew 18:21-22  Then Peter came to Him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”  “No, not seven times,” Jesus replies, “but seventy times seven!”

Do you really think Jesus assumed that the offender would ask for forgiveness each time?

Waiting to forgive until the person asks for forgiveness is giving them tremendous POWER over you – both emotionally and spiritually.

Don’t keep waiting for the offender to ask for forgiveness.  That may never come.  Don’t make yourself a slave to them.  Don’t give them permission to haunt you for the rest of your life.

An example of one-sided forgiveness might be something like this:

A woman is told she should forgive her alcoholic father who beat her and abused her.  But he hasn’t ever asked for her forgiveness, or acknowledged that what he did was wrong.  So why should she forgive him?  If God’s way was that she didn’t have to forgive until her father asked for her forgiveness, God would be setting her up to be imprisoned in her bitterness, anger and pain until her father chooses to act.  She is his prisoner, and could never begin healing until her father did his part.

That is putting all the power and responsibility in the hands of an abuser.  Her earthly father may never acknowledge his sin, much less ask for forgiveness.  But, praise God, she can have freedom in Jesus Christ apart from her earthly father!

Forgiveness sets the victim of the abuse free, not the abuser.

We have to learn to TRUST GOD to handle injustice and the wrongs of others… in His way and in His time.  And He assures us that He will do exactly that.

Romans 2:6  He will judge everyone according to what they have done.
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.
Isaiah 3:10-11  Tell the godly that all will be well for them. They will enjoy the rich reward they have earned!  But the wicked are doomed, for they will get exactly what they deserve.

God alone has the authority and power to judge.  No one will escape His judgment.  He promises to make it right, and the debt to God’s justice WILL be paid in full.

Romans 14:10b Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.  For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the LORD, ‘every knee will bend to Me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.’”

We’ve been looking at this from the victim’s perspective – when someone has done something wrong against us.  Let’s switch viewpoints, because WE will all stand before God guilty for the wrongs WE have done against others.

Have YOU asked God for forgiveness for every single offense you have ever committed?  Every single sin?  Every single wrong action, wrong words and wrong thought?

Do YOU want God to withhold His forgiveness from YOU because you didn’t ASK for it?

Praise God… if you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you will NOT get what you deserve!  You already have His mercy and His grace!