It will allow you to live above offense–in your family, your marriage, your life. Practice it.
JESUS KNEW HOW TO FORGIVE.
His first word from the cross was forgiveness. It kept his heart from crying out for justice. Never such an unjust crime as was done to the Son of God. We killed a perfect man and let a criminal go free. Christ’s heart could have convulsed with the need for justice. He chose to operate with the mercy system rather than the merit system. The thief who was railing against him heard those words of forgiveness: “Father, forgive them…” At some point they sunk in, and he modified his speech. Forgiveness is powerful; it can change people. He made a request: “Remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). What revelation! He identified in eight words that Jesus was a king, that he ruled over a kingdom, and that he would defy death and live forever.
That request changed his life (the last hours)–and his eternity, because Jesus knew how to forgive. You and I will change people if we learn to be good forgivers. Jesus was not bargaining, saying, “If I overlook this offense, I’ll get something back.” This was unilateral forgiveness, without any need to make a demand for justice. A sense of fairness will keep me from extending forgiveness. Desiring what is fair will limit my ability to show grace. What people need is not our being fair but our being merciful. Jesus forgive the woman caught in adultery. It most likely changed her life. He forgave the woman from Samaria who had five husbands. It revolutionized her life. Whose life might you change through forgiveness? “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (Js. 2:13). Let it triumph in your relationships.
JOSEPH KNEW HOW TO FORGIVE.
His brothers sold him down the river. His next thirteen years were anything but pleasant. He went from servant of Potiphar to slave in prison. Instead of being the honored son in a special coat, he was the overlooked slave in a dungeon. Until he received a PhD from heaven in character and was appointed prime minister of the strongest nation in the world. Rather than seeking vengeance, he forgave his brothers freely, though they lied to him by saying that their father had given a message to Joseph through them to extend forgiveness. Instead of calling them out for deception, he wept at what he heard. Then he said, “Am I in the place of God?” (Gen. 50:19), meaning that getting even is God’s department, not ours. Their terrible injustice was answered with total forgiveness. Then he reinterpreted history, saying, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (20). He too was not operating with the merit system but with the mercy system. He knew how to forgive. I want to forgive like that. Don’t you?