A blog I read earlier today by Kirk M (@blessings2you) entitled Are We Willing To Forgive caused me remember long ago when I was battling unforgiveness. I was in my late twenties at the time and God stepped in a delivered me from spending a life-time wallowing and being destroyed by unforgiveness.
I had been wronged by a family member who had committed a criminal act against myself and others. They ended up serving time for their actions. I remember though, how I got "tapped on the shoulder" one day, by the Holy Spirit. There I was minding my own business with my mind on something completely different when I was caught completely off-guard by the Holy Spirit telling me I needed to forgive this person.
What? Why I had and I was going to tell them that just as soon as they asked me for forgiveness, so there!" Smugly I thought that settled that until I got asked "The Question".
The Holy Spirit is really, really good at asking "The Question" at the exact right moment, isn't He. Sigh...
He asked me when God had forgiven me. When I asked for it or when Christ died for me? Well... well... I had knelt down and asked His forgiveness so
I stopped. I had the uneasy sense that wasn't quite right. That was when I repented but was that when forgiveness was first extended towards me? Was forgiveness extended towards me after I repented or had it been there all along and I was only then responding to it, acknowledging it and embracing it?
This is when I understood that God's forgiveness had always been there, even before my repentance. It has always been held out to each one of us. Whether or not we receive that forgiveness, is up to us.
I could not make the person come to me and say, "I'm sorry, please forgive me." Perhaps they would but perhaps they wouldn't. Ultimately, they did not sin against me, they sinned against God. This wasn't about them, however. It was about me. I had unforgiveness in my heart and God was NOT going to allow it to grow any longer. He smashed the lie of the enemy which said, "If you are willing to forgive them if they come and beg you for it, you have forgiven them." That is NOT forgiveness. That is pride! "I'm right and you're wrong so beg my forgiveness and I will grant it to you."
I was ashamed, so very ashamed when I saw things the way they really were. I knew exactly what I had to do. I had to forgive now! I tried and discovered that I couldn't do it. The hurt was too deep but then I remembered, I might not be able to do so but Jesus Christ could and with His help... well... I could too.
I remember I asked Him to help me. I knew He would but I had to take that first step. He would not do that for me. I had to do it. Hesitantly, I opened up my heart to forgiveness and when I did... true forgiveness flooded me.
No, more than twenty years later, I've never heard the person tell me they were sorry but I know they have told God they were sorry and that's what's important. I have seen them suffer a great deal over the years. Sin has consequences and they would be the first to admit that. However, they have also learned a great deal about the love, mercy and grace of God. I have watch their life be transformed. I have watched them develop the heart of a servant and strive to bless others. I have at times been a recipient of being blessed by them as well.
Forgiveness is not an option. We must choose to forgive.