Dr. Lawrence Butler
The Bridge Church, Pembroke
For the last few lessons I have been talking about forgiveness and using various scenarios to present the difficulties of granting forgiveness to those who have hurt us deeply. It is my hope that you have gained understanding that forgiving those who have done us wrong is in no way approving of the action that occurred. It is more the releasing of the victims from holding on to pain that often leads to bitterness and destructive behavior.
However, there is one more aspect that should be discussed before concluding this subject.
All of the previous focus has been on those who have suffered the indignities and pain of being wronged.
Today I want us to consider those who have performed the hurtful and shameful actions that brought about these situations. Can God, and will God, forgive people who have deeply hurt others? We know the answer to this. “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men” (Matt.
12:31). We can say conclusively that without question God will forgive any sin (the blasphemy is another subject matter). There remains a problem which demands our consideration, and that is can we forgive ourselves and live productive lives?
There are two famous men in the Bible who had to deal with this in their personal lives. The first was King David. Most of us are familiar with the story of David and Bathsheba. David committed adultery and then plotted the murder of her husband. His punishment called for the death penalty.
Yet David sought the mercy of the Lord and received forgiveness (see Psalms 51). Then he had to live with his shameful failure while serving as king.
The second famous man in the Bible who failed God so severely was Judas. He betrayed the Son of God for 30 pieces of silver. His guilt was so great that he returned the money and tried to undo his dastardly act. He was unable to live with his actions and soon hung himself.
My point is this – when God forgives you, you must then be able to forgive yourself. Sometimes this is the only step that people are unable to take. Scars do not disappear, bad decisions cannot be unmade, but true forgiveness is available to all.
The guilty person may never have the trust or friendship of some, but God’s grace is sufficient to continue with life and be blessed. Your strength comes from the Lord, not from those who won’t release you from the guilt and failure of the past. Live on, my brother or sister, and forgive yourself after God has released you.