Ephesians 4:32 And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ has forgiven you.
The scripture above is another source of evidence that Christ must always be at the “front and centre” of your Christian walk. It says that God has forgiven you right? Wrong. It says ‘God in Christ has forgiven you’.
God has forgiven you because of what Christ did upon the cross.
If Christ didn’t go to the cross, God could not forgive you because legally, humanity handed over to the devil, the dominion that God originally gave humanity. But when God became man, and defeated the devil in the form of a man, Christ Jesus not only took back dominion and authority on behalf of man, but the ability for man to be forgiven of all sin!
And in Ephesians 4:32, Paul is saying your capacity to forgive does not come from yourself, but the power of forgiveness you have received from God by being in Christ.
Many people say: “I can forgive but I cannot forget.” I’m sure you have heard this before but nowhere in the bible does it tell you to forgive and then to forget! God only tells us to forgive because the truth is we do not possess the power or ability to erase things from our memory. If we did that could be dangerous – just imagine accidentally erasing something really important – who you are married to or your bank account details!
We are called to forgive and initially this will mean we are also carrying pain because we cannot forget, but over time, as you continue to walk in forgiveness that pain not only goes away, but transformation occurs – because you have carried the heart of God.
Joseph is a good illustration of this.
Even though Joseph’s brothers were the cause of his rollercoaster life in slavery and prison, he still forgave them before they came and bowed down before him. He remembered what they did to him, but he chose to forgive them (Genesis 50:15-21). Likewise, you may remember the incident, but the pain and the bitterness is gone because you choose to put the cross in the picture.
When you forgive, forgive by faith and not by your feelings.
That’s because your feelings are often in denial or diagonally opposed to what God’s Word says. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “walk by faith and not by sight” (or your ‘senses’ which includes feelings). Many people are actually waiting for their feelings to change before they forgive. That is called living based on your emotions but the Christian faith is learning to act upon God’s Word and go to love, or go to faith, or go to hope, or go to mercy - rather than your feelings and emotions.
In fact, if you learn to do this one thing – walk based on faith, hope and love - rather than what your feelings and emotions are telling you to do, you will overcome perhaps 80-90% of all your struggles you might be facing in your Christian walk.
So when you forgive, forgive once and for all. Walking in forgiveness is how you train yourself to walk in the grace and mercies of God.