Awhile back, a friend called me and was sharing that someone had hurt them pretty badly and I suggested that they just tell that person that they will forgive them and then begin to work on forgiving them. The reason I suggested this is because so often, guilt eats away at the giver of hurt and the giver begins to …wish they hadn’t hurt that person and th…e enemy moves right in and can work with that guilt, building it in to way more than is necessary and can paralyze a relationship.
On the flip side, the receiver of the hurt tends to hold on to the hurt and can’t seem to move forward. The receiver is so stuck in the pain, that they so often tend to over analyze every other part of the relationship and before we know it, we as the receiver can’t even let go of the pain because we have become comfortable in it, and have build it up into something that it really isn’t and never was.
I began to think about why I made the suggestion to offer my advice of just telling the receiver to tell the giver of the hurt that they would forgive them. It almost seemed that I had suggested that they lie. As I pondered on this I began to realize that as a believer in Christ Jesus, we live by faith. Faith is the corner stone of our belief. We believe in Jesus that He is the Son of the Living God, all by faith. Likewise, our hope in the resurrection is all based on faith.
So what is faith? There is a whole chapter dedicated to faith in chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews. It begins with a definition of faith. Faith is the confident assurance of what we hope for, is going to happen. It is the evidence of what we can not see.
It is through faith that ‘we understand’ that when God called the universe into existence out of nothing, He declared what it was to be, and it was. The chapter goes on to reveal to the reader how all of the patriarchs of our faith lived and walked out their faith. We learn how Able offered his sacrificial gift by faith knowing what would please God. We learn how God had told Noah that a rain was coming to the earth, something Noah had never even seen before and that he needed this huge boat to bring his family safely through what was coming, so by faith Noah built the ark.
The chapter reveals several incidents regarding Abraham. One in which God told Abraham , “Arise and walk through the length and breath of the land, for I will give it to you.” God had given Abraham a promise that through Him, a nation of peoples would be born and yet God instructed Abraham to walk up a mountain to offer his only son on an altar. Before Abraham even walked up that mountain, he told the folks behind that he would be coming back with his son, so by faith, he obeyed God, completely trusting that Isaac’s survival was indispensable to the fulfillment of God’s promise that through his seed a nation of people would be born.
The chapter reveals short versions of how all the heroes of our faith lived their lives trusting in the reward that God had promised of a better plan. But the chapter ends by sharing that nevertheless, even though all the heroes of our faith kept believeing and trusting in this better promise, that none of them received the better promise during their lifetime.
In fact the very last verse tells us that even though God has a better plan of something better, that the promise would involve us who would came much later; so that only with us would they be brought to the goal and be made complete and would receive the promise. Even though they believeed in the promise, God’s secret plan for history involving the perfecting of the human race from all times and places and cultures, to Gentiles and Jews and all of Israel; would not come to fruition until all are glorified together at the same time.
Why? Because Jesus said, “ And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
All the heroes of our faith died with out receiving the promise because Jesus has not yet returned.
So by faith, when someone hurts us, it is a better promise that we offer our forgiveness and then do so, working it out by faith because Jesus also said, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
Having faith in God can accomplish the impossible and that is what faith is all about. We have to forgive others and we have to give them that forgiveness in the present because we never know if that person will be around the next day to forgive them or if we ourselves go to sleep and do not wake up the next day. We can not delay. We have to work in the here and now, not putting off till tomorrow, what must be done today. We have to offer our forgiveness before we can even pray. Through prayer we can work out the details of our faith and God can help us come to grips with all of those details.
But Jesus said, when we are praying to first forgive anyone we are holding a grudge against so that our Father in heaven can forgive us our sin, our trespass. So by saying, “I will forgive you”, we are declaring a statement of faith.