Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. Proverbs 10:12
Have you noticed how easily we get offended?
Honestly, it doesn’t take much. It offends us if the person in the car in front of us drives too slow. Or when the service at a restaurant doesn’t meet our expectations. We even take offense when someone looks at us the wrong way—or doesn’t look at us at all.
Every day we allow grievances to snatch away our peace. Then when something really hurtful happens, we’re undone.
Beloved, Jesus went to the cross to rid us of offense.
Perhaps you’ve never thought of it that way before. But the power of the cross lies in forgiveness, and forgiveness takes no offense.
Jesus showed us what that looked like as He bled for us on the cross.
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
The people screaming, “Crucify Him!” weren’t sorry. They hadn’t apologized. It wasn’t even over. They shouted insults while He bled for them. They celebrated His agony while He struggled to gasp out the words, “Father, forgive them.”
The love released through that act of forgiveness shook the earth and tore the veil. It crumbled the barrier that separated man from God. And it conquered sin and death in man’s heart so love and life could flow in its place—love that empowers, love that redeems, love that transforms and heals.
When we choose offense, we submit to the spirit of the world—of hatred—rather than the Spirit of love Christ poured out. We choose our sin nature instead of Christ’s nature. Jesus always forgives.
1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us love does not insist on its own way, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Hatred keeps that record, dear one. It remembers every offense.
Can you see why God compels us to forgive, dear one? God is love, and love covers all offenses (Proverbs 10:12).
Beloved, you and I have been empowered by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us to live driven by Christ’s love rather than sin’s hate. We’ve been given a new nature—Christ’s nature—and that nature offers the power to dramatically change our present circumstances. When walking in that nature, we enjoy the beautiful fruit the Holy Spirit provides.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t you love to live each day feeling your heart swell with love and bubble over with joy? Wouldn’t you love the peace of God to wash away your anxiety and worry? Don’t you long to find yourself empowered to patience instead of blowing up at the people you love?
Unfortunately, that isn’t where most of us live. Instead, we far more readily give in to our flesh, spending much of our days tied up in knots, feeling frustrated, angry, depressed, and overcome by the circumstances we find ourselves in. Our families end up baring the brunt of our misery.
What are we missing? Perhaps Matthew 6:14-15 will shed some light on the root of our struggle.
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Powerful words. Jesus said if I refuse to forgive others, God won’t forgive me. Let’s put it another way. If I refuse to release others, God doesn’t release me.
No wonder so many of us feel stuck.
Taking offense and harboring bitterness in your heart will keep you from experiencing the grace of forgiveness in your own life. That means the power God offers through forgiveness gets held back, and you feel the weight of the offense you carry.
You may have noticed. Offense imprisons you in darkness.
Dear one, God’s command to forgive those who offend us isn’t about letting them off the hook. It’s about allowing God’s power to continue to flow into our lives. Bitterness blocks the flow of His love, and love empowers everything God does.
You and I don’t deserve forgiveness, dear one. We’re guilty. But Jesus offers it anyway and asks us to receive it by faith.
Yet we struggle to extend that grace others. We want people to earn it. And we won’t offer forgiveness freely because whoever hurt us doesn’t deserve it.
I won’t argue with you. Nobody really deserves forgiveness. The very fact that we need to extend it means that a wrong has taken place.
But God’s not asking us to let people off the hook when He asks us to forgive them. He’s asking us to let Him bear the burden. He’s asking us to trust His promise in Exodus 14:14,
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (NIV)
When we trust God to keep His Word and surrender our bitterness, a beautiful thing happens. He moves on our behalf. And trusting Him accesses the grace of God to provide the fruit of the Spirit in us. Love replaces anger. Joy replaces bitterness. Peace overshadows strife.
Forgive, dear one, so you can be forgiven. Release your captors so that you can live free.