“Peter! What’s with you, man? Why did you throw me under the bus and dis me the other night in front of those people? That’s it! That’s the last time you’re doing that to me! You’ve made too many mistakes since I’ve known you. Our friendship is over!”
I don’t know about you, but that probably would’ve been my response to Peter had he acted toward me like he acted toward Jesus the night Jesus was arrested. But notice after His resurrection, as recounted in John 21, that Jesus fellowships with Peter and six other disciples around a breakfast meal, and He doesn’t confront Peter with his offense.
Jesus knew what Peter had done, but He also knew that Peter was repentant. Jesus covered Peter’s sin on the Cross and didn’t remember it against him. Instead, Jesus was concerned that Peter move on and complete the work he was called to do.
Recently, I was hurt by people I thought I could trust. My first reactions were disbelief and a desire for revenge. I relapsed to strategies that I developed as a child to protect myself within a dysfunctional family. I started to “hide” within myself so no one else could hurt me. When I did, my mind raced with a variety of thoughts, and my emotions rode a roller-coaster of feelings.
But once I checked my emotions, I returned to God’s Word for solace. The Scriptures reminded me that my place is not to seek vengeance, but to forgive and be about the business God called me to do.
“What? Forgive? That’s too hard, Jesus.”
“Yes, I know,” Jesus answers. “Think about what I went through to forgive you. Do you think separation from my Father for your sake was easy?”
My forgiveness toward others means I have to let go of my desires that run contrary to God’s Word and let God do His work in my life and the lives of those who hurt me. That’s the hard part: letting go. I have to realize, too, that I may have played a part in my injury.
I prayed, “Jesus, if I did anything to contribute to my hurt, please reveal it to me so I may confess it, learn from it, and restore my fellowship with You.”
Fellowship with Jesus . . . isn’t that what our focus as believers is to be? If we have the “mind of Christ,” why would we waste mental energy on anything other than thinking about intimacy with our Father? If I don’t forgive others as I have been forgiven by Jesus, I affect my fellowship with my Father.
So, I must forgive. In my heart, I must forgive those who hurt me.
Then comes inner peace brought about by the realization that just as God allowed His Son to be betrayed by Judas as part of His plan, God allowed this incident in my life as a part of His plan for me. With that in mind, I look forward to what God has for me now.
I am reminded of two important things to remember when it comes to forgiveness, as described by Wayne Stiles of Insight for Living:
Forgiving doesn’t always mean forgetting and may require setting boundaries that keep us from those who hurt us while He does His work in them.
We should factor God’s sovereignty into forgiveness remembering that “all things work together for good for those who love God.” How does that impact our perspective on the hurt?
What a wonderful gift is God’s forgiveness through the sacrifice of His Son. May He give us grace to extend that gift to others.
-- Ray Locy, CITYgroup leader and Serve Team member