Don’t call yourself a Christian if you can’t yourself forgive

“Start tearing the old man down
Run past the heather and down to the old road
Start turning the grain into the ground Roll a new leaf over”

Omaha- Counting Crows

Forgiveness is not optional. It is not conditional or with parameters. It is not just because we have to, it is because we want to. It is because we have a greater desire to be one with the crucified Christ in order for ourselves to be risen in Spirit. There is no height or width in our forgiveness. It doesn’t look the same for everyone. It is a necessity. It is the entire basis for what we believe.

I’ve heard a lot of “I shouldn’t have to” apologies and “I’m right” and “my pastor says it’s o.k.” I’ve heard every excuse. I have taught a bible study for sexual abuse survivors for which I am one, where I continually preached about our necessity to forgive our abusers. It was gut wrenching and one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. But at the end, oh at the end, it was us that were free.

I have decided to take up Pope Francis’s Year of Mercy as a personal mission. I offer mercy whenever I can. And mercy and forgiveness don’t negate consequences. It only requires we be the love of the Lord, His heart, His hands and his feet. So I sent a reply to a former client who had sent me a Christmas card from prison.

“Believe in Jesus, believe in forgiveness, you can walk with Him even behind those prison walls.”

And an excerpt from his reply:

“I’ve long ago given my life over to Christ. Everyday I grow closer to Him. My journey in this place has been pure hell. But God has always seemed to free me mentally from these walls.”

He hurt someone. He will be in prison until he is a very old man. I tried to help him when he was free. But now I know that he was never free. He was not free until he got to prison. 

There’s nothing you can do or say that will change my mind about Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness. There is no verse you can turn on its head or teaching you could show me that would convince me that Jesus was anything other than forgiveness itself. He was, in the beginning, the word, and in him, there is only life.

Someone hurt my son, and I chose to forgive him. And I chose mercy. I chose to see him through the eyes of Christ. And God forgives me everyday. And so I forgave him. There is nothing to understand except the God that lives inside of me. And although my heart ached, I was at peace… an indescribable peace. And we prayed together for this person. And we talked about God’s forgiveness as a family. And my children learned that God values their pain and the forgiveness that was extended through our hands. And it was impossible to cry when my son said to a grown man, “apology accepted.”

If you’re feeling convicted you should, there’s nothing to be confused about. You can’t call yourself a follower of Jesus if you don’t follow him. 

The crucified Christ lived inside of me today. And He eased my pain. All I felt was His love, for me and for my son. I was Abraham carrying Isaac in obedience to the God I serve. And He, he provided the ram.

8 thoughts on “Don’t call yourself a Christian if you can’t yourself forgive

  1. Amen. Someone once said that not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. We put ourselves in prison when we don’t forgive. I like Pope Francis’ mission, too. I think the world sorely needs some mercy and unconditional love. Blessings.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “But now I know that he was never free.”

    In the daily readings I have there comes up, from time to time, a suggestion to pray for all those who are prisoners of war around the world. And I always nod – and always wonder: why do we think ourselves free simply because we have a computer, a job, a home and a fine “free” life?


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  3. I might have stated this in a comment to another that you, yourself follow, so if you have read it, forgive me for repeating. Sis, I was an associate pastor for a while at a church that sorely needed some help with teaching and such. What made me resign and run from the place is when the Pastor (job title) preached from the pulpit that you do NOT have to forgive everyone. It actually inspired me to write a chapter devoted to forgiveness in my Walking In Christ book I had published in 2000! He believed that there is a limit to forgiveness AND that some just CAN’T be forgiven.
    Now this was a man whom I prayed with every morning before going to my secular job for approximately an hour. We had other discussions from time to time about things from Scriptures that he taught on from the pulpit and as his church slowly dwindled to about 40 – 50 members, he couldn’t understand why.
    When I talked with him about his ideas on forgiveness with Bible in hand, he literally rejected any thought of discussion; after all he WAS the Pastor!
    You know what? When I resigned and my family left that church, I let him know that I still forgave him and was praying that our Heavenly Father would be merciful for the sake of those that stayed behind. There were many who truly believed that because he was the Pastor he could certainly speak no wrong. It made me truly understand how places like the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas and others could have the same Bible as you and I, and yet still get the Word of God so twisted. I made me so appreciate the gift of forgiveness, mercy and grace AND the Atonement of Jesus Christ for ALL mankind.
    I think, sometimes, our Lord, in His wisdom and grace, allows us to see how others think so that we have a comparison with HIS wise and Living Word!
    Forgiveness is not a luxury that we can choose to give or not. It is a part, an important essence of that Agape love, that unconditional love that God Almighty does empower us with. It is such an integral part of that love, that if you neglect, or hold back the giving of it, you cannot begin to even say that you love others!
    You made the comment of hurt and I believe it is the nature of unconditional love (forgiveness as part) that it does hurt, because it goes against the world’s definition AND the flesh’s nature to love as Christ commanded and as God, our Heavenly Father desires us to love. When He made us in His Image, we need to remember that He IS love and therefore to look in the mirror and see His image reflected, we have to love, despite its hurts and at times loneliness and everything else that come with it!!
    Great article Sis and one we truly NEED to be reminded of continually! It can get too easy to grow slack in loving all, without consideration!
    God bless so much (and thanks for the prayers, Sis!).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow, what a powerful story. It still shocks me that this happens, HOW does this even happen? It still blows my mind to hear stories like this. Thank you so much for sharing your story, it is so powerful and needed!

      Love you and your story and may God heal you quickly.


      Liked by 1 person

  4. Forgiveness is basic to our faith, and many do not comprehend the power of it, or of the extent to which we have been forgiven. Forgiveness leads to an inexplicable freedom and peace; the kind only the love of Christ can bring.

    Liked by 1 person

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