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The Power of Forgiveness

Monday, April 12, 2010

Category: Change, Character, Forgiveness, God's Character, Problems

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, [just] as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

There isn’t one person reading this who hasn’t been hurt by another person. Question: what are you doing with that offense? Do you hold them hostage for the injury they inflicted on you? How many hours and days have you wasted thinking, You owe me and I’m going to make you pay?

That’s a tough question on a painful topic but you have to get it settled. In order to navigate your way through relationships, you need to hold a conviction about how you’re going to respond when someone hurts you.

Ephesians 4:31-32 gives us direction:
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, [just] as God in Christ forgave you.”

Read that last phrase again, “just as God in Christ forgave you.”

Just as freely as He forgave you.

Just as quickly as He forgave you.

Just as generously as He forgave you.

Jesus models what forgiveness should look like in our lives. He was falsely accused, mocked, beaten, and spat upon, then crucified. As He hung on that cross for your sins and mine, He said: “Father, forgive them.” Jesus’ model motivates us to live out Ephesians 4:32, “Just as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

You’ve heard me say it before: there are no enduring relationships without forgiveness. None. Before you go very far in any partnership, there will be forks in the road where if you do not forgive, the relationship will not survive. It’s true in every marriage, in every household, in every small group, in every friendship. This is always, always true.

You know that Kathy and I are committed to serving in one church for a lifetime. As I’m preaching, I look into the faces of people I’ve known for a long time. I know that I would not have that relationship today were it not for their willingness to forgive me and my willingness to forgive them. Forgiveness says, “Because of Christ, you owe me nothing.”

I love this true account from the life of Leonardo DaVinci. Not only was he a great painter, but DaVinci had a great faith in God. On the day he was to begin to paint the masterpiece, “The Last Supper,” he had a blow-out argument with one of his friends.

As he was painting the disciples seated around the table, DaVinci was still sour toward his friend. So when it came time to paint Judas—you guessed it—he painted his friend’s face. Then he moved on to paint Jesus. Of course Leonardo loved Christ but try as he might, he couldn’t paint His likeness in any way that he thought represented His beauty. He painted, erased, painted, erased. Convicted by his own unforgiveness, he repainted the face of Judas with some other, random likeness and went to get right with his friend. Only then could he return to finish his portrait of Christ.

It’s been said that DaVinci’s face of Christ in this work is one of the most beautiful ones ever painted. What a great picture of the mercy in forgiveness. It will bear itself out in your life and mine. We will not see the likeness of Christ reproduced in our lives until we forgive.

Has the Lord brought a relationship to mind that needs your long-overdue forgiveness? By faith say, “Because of Christ, you owe me nothing.”

Take to heart God’s call on your life:

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ has forgiven you.

 

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