When the Bible says to forgive others as you’ve been forgiven, it’s not a philosophical or poetic statement. It’s a big deal. There’s no new life without receiving forgiveness, and there’s no growing in that new life without giving it away freely. Every time someone offends you, there’s a choice: hold it in your heart and mind until it’s part of your identity, or, give it to God.
If you choose to keep it to justify your wrath, be warned: when you accept someone’s offense, you actually submit yourself to their judgment of you. That seems like a contradiction, but by focusing on how they’re hurting you, you’re giving them power over your thoughts and emotions. The more you obsess over it, the more it interferes with your relationship with God, and with who you are in him. Gaps open in your identity, which usually get filled in by anger, bitterness, and hate. You become like your accusers, rather than who God says you can be.
Don’t let anyone’s words, actions, or inactions rob you of fully living. Being offended just isn’t a good enough reason to abort your astonishing identity and unique journey in Jesus Christ. Nothing is.
At the heart of this time of year is a celebration of freedom, because living in forgiveness, thankfulness, grace, and love is the best way to be spiritually and emotionally free. I hope this season is the most powerful celebration of your freedom in Jesus you’ve ever had.
“Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).