What Does Forgiveness Look Like?

December 27, 2016

I saw a recent Facebook post in reference to a Seinfeld episode where George’s family annually celebrates “Festivus” on December 23rd. Festivus (a festival for the rest-of-us) features a Festivus dinner, an unadorned aluminum Festivus pole, “Feats of Strength,” the labeling of easily explainable events as “Festivus miracles” and the traditional “Airing of Grievances.”

The holiday, as portrayed in the Seinfeld episode, includes the “Airing of Grievances” during the meal where everyone has a chance to tell everyone else all the ways they have disappointed them over the past year. George’s father declares. “I’ve got a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re going to hear about them!”

Does this sound at all familiar when the family gets together, the “Airing of Grievances?”

As I was preparing to post my daily scripture today, I chose excerpts from Psalm 103. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not his benefits. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

Reading that Psalm got me to thinking about forgiveness and what does forgiveness look like? I did a quick Google search for scripture about forgiveness and found the following.

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also for you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. ~ Matthew 6:14-15

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” ~ 1 John 1:9

“Come now, let us settle this matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” ~ Isaiah 1:18

The scripture that resonated with me most though came from Isaiah 43, verse 25 “I, even I, am he who blots our your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

What does forgiveness look like?

Have you ever “forgiven” someone for something and then bring back that offense to “hit them over the head again and again?” I think most of us, if we were honest, would answer “yes” to that question. So, is that truly forgiveness?

Remember Matthew 6? “If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also for you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” That’s a pretty ominous warning; are we paying attention?

What does forgiveness look like?

“Well, I forgive them, but I won’t forget it happened.” Have you ever thought that, or even said that out loud? Is that still forgiveness, or will you hold that sin in abeyance until they hurt you again and you bring it out to remind you and them, of how much they’ve hurt you?

What does forgiveness look like?

Have you ever contemplated “getting even” with someone? We all do. Do you ever drive to work and get cut off by another driver and then think about how to get them back? It’s human nature, our sinful human nature that’s so quick not to forgive, so quick to plot revenge, so fixated on remembering the sin and holding a grudge.

If you choose not to forgive someone, who is hurt? Have you ever really considered that?

Here’s the deal, the person who offended you, may not realize they did it, or worse, may not care. But the grudge you hold, the un-forgiveness, only hurts you. They go on blissfully unaware of how you’re feeling. Forgiveness is as much for you as it is for the person who’s wronged you. Personally, I’d argue maybe even more.

This is what struck me about Isaiah 25 “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” ~ Psalm 103

Isn’t that what true forgiveness looks like?

God blots out our transgressions, for the sake of Christ, but then remembers them no more. As far as the east is from the west, he has removed our sin from us. We are washed clean with the blood of Christ, our sins though scarlet, are as white as snow.

What’s the value of forgiveness, if the sin is remembered again and again?

Praise God that he not only washed us clean in the blood of Christ, but promises to remember our sins no more.

My prayer is that all of us remember what forgiveness truly looks like. The forgiveness of Christ, the steadfast promise of forgiveness from a holy and merciful Father, freely offered to everyone who believes on His Name.

Tonight, when you pray, pray with me “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever.

Amen and Amen