I’m excited to welcome my friend Donna Lowe back to Buddy Breathing today as she continues to blog with me on forgiveness. I’m amazed at Donna’s ability to take difficult concepts and make them real and directly applicable to my life. Thank you for being here Donna, and for sharing your heart for God and others.
Forgiveness. Have you opened your gift?
In my last blog, Understanding Forgiveness: Part One, we caught a glimpse of God’s “Abundant Pardon” toward us. To summarize, there is nothing you have ever done, nothing you are currently doing, nothing you ever will do, that God cannot forgive.
Though God’s mercy is abundant, forgiveness is a transaction. In an ordinary business deal, a transaction is complete when payment is made in exchange for the delivery of goods. It is the same with forgiveness. Jesus paid the price. He died on the cross so that you could be forgiven and reconciled with God. However, you must receive that forgiveness or the transaction is incomplete.
In my senior high school years, I had a special friend. I wanted to do something really significant for him. I decided to buy a gift for his birthday. I knew the gift had to be something useful, but I also wanted the gift to absolutely “wow” him. I wanted this gift to be something he would never have the means to acquire for himself.
I had no money, but I did have a part-time job. I asked my boss if I could work extra hours on evenings and weekends. My boss agreed, and for the next twelve months I worked as often as I could. In addition, I saved my birthday money, and any extra cash that came my way.
I spent all my free time window shopping and pouring over catalogues, trying to decide on a suitable gift. Near the end of the year I found what I considered to be the perfect gift. It was a power tool. I don’t think I have ever been so excited about buying a gift for anyone. I was ridiculously giddy as I made my purchase.
Long story short, I wrapped the gift in beautiful paper, planned a special dinner, invited guests and carefully thought out what I would say when I gave the gift to him. For months I had been imagining the look on his face, as he opened my special gift. Now the time was finally here. I was shocked, no, devastated by what happened next. When he opened the gift, he showed no signs of enthusiasm. He was completely apathetic. The gift remained at my house, in the half opened box, with the wrapping torn to shreds. Eventually I gave the gift to someone else. I guess he was not able to see the value of the gift.
His response however, did not negate the facts.
That gift cost me a lot more than cash. It was bought and paid for, even though he never took it out of the box. The gift was meant for a specific purpose. It was supposed to benefit him, and if used as it was intended, it could have brought him and many others, great joy.
Sadly, as the gift remained in the box it was rendered useless!
I cannot help but see the parallel between my story, and God’s. The gift God gave us, was far more valuable than the one I chose to give my friend. Forgiveness came at a great personal cost and extreme sacrifice. It came beautifully wrapped in precious human frailty, which was later torn to shreds. Regardless of our response to it, the gift of forgiveness for our sins has been bought and paid for. It’s up to us whether we take it out of the box or not.
For many of us who call ourselves “Christians,” we have often received the gift of God’s forgiveness with apathy or total rejection! It’s apathy when we lack joy in our lives and do not praise God continually for what Jesus did for us, regardless of our circumstances.
It is rejection, when our lives remain unchanged by the power of His forgiveness. In speaking about the times to come, Paul describes such people to Timothy in this way, “men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, ungrateful, haters of good, …..reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure, rather than God. These people have a form of godliness, (think – church goers, professing to be followers of Jesus) although they have denied it’s power” (those church goers remain unforgiving, unloving, exactly as they were before they met Jesus.) 2 Timothy 3:2-5.
When we are apathetic, or reject God’s forgiveness, we are rendered ineffective, because Christianity hinges on the power of forgiveness.
The transaction of forgiveness is made complete with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, God’s ultimate power tool. When the Holy Spirit lives in us we have all the power we need to live completely different lives. The Holy Spirit enables us to live in obedience to God’s Word, no longer chained to our former thoughts and bad habits. Along with forgiveness, we receive both understanding of who God is, and reconciliation with Him. Forgiveness brings great joy and eternal life, to anyone who accepts it.
So what about you? Have you taken the gift of forgiveness out of the box? Are you walking in obedience, leaving behind your former ways? Have you noticed an increased desire to praise God, regardless of your circumstances? Do have the joy of Christ in you?
You can’t give something away unless you have it to give. Forgiveness is a gift that is meant to be passed on. In my next blog I will begin defining the steps of forgiving others. For now, I hope you will spend some time with God, making sure you understand the value of His gift to you.