“Forgiveness is not a feeling it is a purposeful decision” June Hunt
I remember reading those words for the first time on a rainy summer day on my bed during the summer of 2012. The last two years had been an unexpected development of my faith. Never had I felt love for Christ as passionately as then. It was a love so grand that it forced me to come face-to-face with a sinful foundation in my life: hate. As my love for my Father blossomed; a hate for my father bloomed. God is amazing, but He cannot co-occupy a heart still burdened with sin. With this in mind and knowing I would be leaving home in 3 months, I decided to find a book on forgiveness.
Those word pummeled me. Obviously, I burst into tears with this overwhelming revelation. If forgiveness was a decision, it meant I have to intentionally choose it. Feelings come passively. We choose our attitudes, which dictate our feelings. No one has to tell you to feel sad when a friend dies. No one reminds you to have joy on your wedding day. However, forgiveness is a choice. It was something over the course of reading that I chose. I chose to forgive my father. I am continually walking that out, but I continually choose to forgive him.
Most times, I don’t find it necessary to forgive someone as I don’t really think people offend me often. Even if they do, I know to some degree I have offended them as well. Yet, there are moments where I did not commit an offense. Nevertheless, I am still offended.
“Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” Hebrews 13:17
“Bless those who curse you; pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:28
With my life as it is, I have found it hard to forgive those who put me in this position. My life was interrupted in the rudest of disruptive of ways. I lost so much in a matter of hours. Bitterness, would be a justifiable carnal feeling to have and honestly, I have felt it. However, it is not Christlike. My bitterness does NOTHING, but thwart the will of God in my life. Far greater than that, I have begun to consider two scenarios. Humanity broke a utopian world that God had so intricately created. He sacrificed Himself as Jesus for our redemption. If He can forgive I can forgive, especially when I am slapped in the face with this block of truth found in Matthew 18:23-35 (NASB)
“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”
But, I also have referenced this scenario in my head as well.
He wakes up with a sick feeling in His stomach. He knows what the night will bring Him. He knows what is coming. He hears the men he has journeyed with for three years outside his tent. He exits and greets them. He sees Him off to the side. He knows what is coming. Boker tov Judas. Judas repeats these words to Jesus. They smile at one another, as Jesus knows in a matter of hours, Judas will betray Him. He will turn Him over to the Jewish and eventually Roman officials to endure an amount of human suffering unbearable to a mere mortal. This level of human suffering is beyond the physical and extends into the spiritual realm. And here they are walking as if nothing it going on. I love Judas. I was there when Judas was crafted. Father, forgive him; he does not know what he is doing.
The He in this except is Jesus. I imagine Jesus knowing about Judas and still choosing to love him and forgive him. It amazes me, but also reminds me that I must forgive. Honestly, it was just a job. It may have taken me by surprise, but God was not shaken or stirred by this. And if the Creator of all humanity can forgive me, and Jesus can forgive Judas I can forgive them.
“When you pray for your enemies, it redirects your heart from the offender’s faults to the offender’s need for restoration.”
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore