We have all heard them … stories of unthinkable forgiveness. They are inspirational for us, oftentimes leaving us wondering if we, in the middle of that story, could offer the same level of forgiveness. Or would we be angry, resentful, and would the ‘root of bitterness’ as described in Hebrews grow in us.
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. Hebrews 12:15
What empowers some people to give this level of unthinkable forgiveness? The more tragic the story, the more incredible and unthinkable is the forgiveness. How can someone forgive a murderer? How can someone forgive the person that murdered their child? How does one forgive a drunk driver? A rapist? These nouns probably illicit just a little bit of dread in you and if you would dwell on them just for a moment, imagine them playing out in your life, they would probably cause you to become quite distraught.
And yet, we hear of stories of forgiveness in situations just like these over and over again. Stories where forgiveness has been granted and sometimes where relationships even develop. How can this be?!?
We will all face hurts in this lifetime, that is guaranteed. Some of these hurts will be run of the mill everyday variety, while some of them will be tragic events like the ones mentioned earlier. We do not get to choose our hurts; we choose our response. And forgiveness, for the believer - the person who has declared Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior - isn’t supposed to just be inspirational; it is required. We, who have been forgiven of much, must be a forgiving people. We, who have been granted unthinkable forgiveness, must give unthinkable forgiveness.
Offering unthinkable forgiveness means that we must appreciate the magnitude of the forgiveness we have been offered. Romans 5:20 teaches that the Law came to reveal just how broken and sinful we are. The more we can understand the magnitude of our brokenness, the more we can understand how great grace abounds and that is the key to unlocking unthinkable forgiveness for others in our lives.
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more… Romans 5:20
There is another key element to unthinkable forgiveness … recognizing it is a process. God sent His one and only son to sacrifice His life for us, thereby offering us perfect, complete forgiveness. While Christ only had to die once for all our sins past and present, forgiveness for us is not a onetime thing. Many times, most times, forgiveness is something that we must do again, and again, and again, and again. Leaning into forgiveness this way is not easy; often, it is painful … but it can bring about a place of complete forgiveness even in the most offensive situations. Time does not heal all wounds; time plus intentional forgiveness heals wounds.
I encourage you to receive unthinkable forgiveness from God through His Son Jesus Christ. And once you have, you are called to be a person who gives unthinkable forgiveness … even in the most difficult of circumstances. Forgiveness will kill the root of bitterness and open the door for you to experience the fullness of God.
Hello Pastor Brian,
I want to forgive. My problem is not knowing how. How do I forgive? I try with prayer and reflection and it doesn't seem to be happening. I am willing and I understand that forgiving will help me, but how do I forgive?