Sometimes the simple truth is worth revisiting even if it wasn't that long ago that I posted about forgiveness. In my last post I wrote about how Christians (those who are called ministers of reconciliation) when told that their brother or sister is sorry or even ask for forgiveness directly, respond with "it's OK" and I am not the only one who thinks that. Author Paul Tripp says in his book War of Words,
Scripture is clear that it makes no sense to rejoice in the amazing forgiveness we have received in Christ if we refuse to forgive others (see Matt. 18:21-35). Scripture is clear that committing myself to forgive means being willing to do it over and over again . . . .God's Word stresses that forgiveness should not be taken for granted, but that we must speak unmistakable words of forgiveness to one another. Our model of forgiveness is the Lord, who does not assume that we will understand that he has forgiven us. He declares it over and over again in his Word. Relational forgiveness always means speaking words of forgiveness to the offender.
It is not helpful to say, "That's okay," or "It's no problem" to a person who has been convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit and has come to seek forgiveness. The Lord already has convinced the person that what he did was not okay. He needs the gift of forgiveness from you to put his heart at rest. In this situation, we need to say, "I forgive you and I have already committed myself never to bring up this issue to myself, to you or to others." These words do two things: they block the work of the enemy and they promote the work of sanctification and reconciliation that the Holy Spirit has already begun.
So, I have been sitting with this another truth concerning forgiveness for almost 24 hours. It was humbling. I have to be willing to accept when a brother or sister refuses to forgive me or ignores my attempts at making things right. The proper response is for me to forgive but I can't say, I forgive you for not forgiving me. Instead, I need to pray and let it all go. If I have put myself out there, named my sin, asked for forgiveness, then there is not one thing I can do to make someone else forgive me. It is now between them and God. Mine is to be loving toward that individual and to be ready if at a later date they decide to forgive because I will get to rejoice in the freedom that they experience.
To know the truth and not feel compelled to go and let the other person know what I have discovered is also a freedom. To sit with the truth is comforting and convicting. To rejoice in the truth is loving. I am being shaped and molded by relationships and experiences in this life. The Word of God reveals and restates the truth about forgiveness over and over again. The Good News is Jesus shed his blood for the forgiveness of sins.
I no longer have a right to myself, I have been bought with a price and I can take anything from anyone because I belong to my Savior Jesus Christ and it is in Him that I find my refuge and my strength.
Thank you Lord.