Forgiveness is essential to living a grace-full. God extends his grace to us, and he expects us to extend that grace to others.
When you live your life full of bitterness and unresolved anger, that life is full of stress. People must be constantly watched for the harm you know they will do. Events must be meticulously controlled to avoid the pain you are certain will come. Under siege, you become a raw nerve of reaction, stressed out and defensive. Peace is so far away, you can’t even see a glimmer of it on the horizon.
The only path to peace is forgiveness — turning bitterness into kindness and resentment into compassion. By doing so, you claim victory over your enemies by refusing to participate in the war. By claiming victory, you establish your own peace.
As you seek peace with your enemies, don’t forget to look in the mirror. Sometimes the person we have the hardest time forgiving is the one staring back at us.
When you fail to forgive yourself, you may spend a great deal of time and energy attempting to make up for your faults, mistakes, and misjudgments. When you are at war with yourself, you’re not going to experience peace.
In order to forgive — either others or ourselves — we need to learn to live gracefully. We must stop withholding forgiveness until certain conditions are met. We must stop demanding payment for forgiveness and offer it as a gift, just as God does.
I’ve heard more than one person tell me that forgiveness goes against their nature. Which nature? Children have an incredible capacity to forgive. Somewhere along the line, we can lose that capacity as adults, but that doesn’t mean we never had it or can’t get it back. Living grace-full means reconnecting with that capacity of forgiveness.
According to the calculus of this world, forgiveness — and the grace that it takes — doesn’t add up. There are times when extending grace through forgiveness will be the exact opposite of what you feel like doing. Forgiveness seems risky and wrong.
Grace sets up its own internal contradiction because grace is not a human concept; grace is a diving concept. Author Philip Yancey says, “Grace sounds a startling note of contradiction, of liberation, and every day I must pray anew for the ability to hear its message.” i
No one said treating others with grace is going to be easy. Philip Yancey says, “God took a great risk by announcing forgiveness in advance, and the scandal of grace involves a transfer of that risk to us.” ii Living grace-full means living risky and at peace with the risk. How can risk coexist with peace? When God is in charge of the equation, that’s when.
Don’t stress about how all of this grace and forgiveness and risk and peace is going to work; trust God to figure it out for you. Ask him to show you the way to give grace and forgive; then follow where he leads.
If you are struggling with living a grace-full life and feel that stress has taken over, our team at The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help. For more information on how The Center can work with you to treat stress, depression and anxiety, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.
i Philip Yancey, What So Amazing About Grace (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1997), 71.
ii Ibid., 180