Ephesians 4:31-32, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
What interests me the most about the Apostle Paul’s comments is his contrasts of emotions. He is suggesting that we get rid of destructive behaviors such as bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, and slander and replace them with kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. Easier said than done, isn’t it?
I saw a quote recently. It was actually on a shower curtain in the guest bathroom of a couple with whom Connie and I spend time. “Forgiveness is admitting we are like other people.” The phrase stuck in my head for several days until I could rationalize what it meant to me. Interestingly, we see others for what they are. We see ourselves for what we are striving to become. When others make mistakes, we measure them by the mistake they made. When we make mistakes, we reconcile the action with our circumstances and strive never to do it again. We find the potential in ourselves and disregard the potential in others.
Forgiveness comes when we see ourselves in others.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”
Christ came to us in human form to experience our struggles, our temptations, our grief, our mistakes. He came so that He could connect to us in a way no one else ever could. And because of His willingness to do so, He paid the price for our sin – IN FULL – accepting the pain and suffering for us. It is difficult to relate His action with ours but I see it in this way, when someone apologizes to us for hurting us, we tend to respond, “It’s ok. No worries.” In actuality, we’ve probably told 3 people what they did to us. We don’t really want to be around that person and while we think we’ve forgiven them, we really haven’t.
Forgiveness comes when we say, “Yes. You hurt me deeply. But I am willing to pay the price and love you. I’m willing to accept the pain and the betrayal and continue our relationship.” That is what Paul meant when he wrote those words in Corinthians.
But how do we truly know we have forgiven? 3 Ways to be assured you have forgiven a wrong doing.
1. The act does not consume your thoughts any longer. When we are betrayed, we tend to play it over and over in our minds. We talk about it and refer to it on a regular basis. Sometimes it becomes who we are. It is how we relate. When we forgive, we are able to put the action aside.
2. It doesn’t hurt anymore. While forgetting would be a great thing, most of us don’t have the ability to erase our past; but, when we forgive, we remember the action, but it doesn’t have power over us anymore.
3. We can love the offender. The toughest part of forgiveness is willingly showing our love for the one who hurt us. We do not react differently in their presence. We display genuine acceptance when they are around.
Today, realize there is someone in your life you need to forgive. Start on the path to turning “bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander” into the kindness and compassion of God.