February 10, 2024
Hebrew 12:15, New Living Translation
“Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”
Have you ever heard someone say, “How could God require me to forgive those who did bad things to me and do not deserve to have my forgiveness!” Or maybe a counselor answers that question by saying, “Forgiveness is not about them, it is for your own good.” What does “for your own good” truly mean? Is it simply so we can have the forgiveness of God? Do I need to earn my forgiveness or exchange something for it? Before I share what I believe the Lord has shown me about these questions, let's walk through the life of Absalom, who was the third son king David had with Maacah recorded in 2 Samuel chapters 13-18.
The story began with Amnon, who was the first son that King David had with one of his wives Ahinoam. King David also had a daughter named Tamar, who was the sister of Absalom and stepsister of Amnon. Tamar was kind to Amnon, but Amnon would use manipulation, lies, and violence to rape her. But after it was over Amnon cast Tamar out of presence. He did her unjustly and according to the cultural norms of that time, she would never be accepted by any man for marriage. Absalom, Tamar’s brother, had her come live with him and the Bible described her as “a desolate woman”. Two years passed and Absalom took care of her, hearing her weep, and knowing that their father, King David, had done nothing to give her justice.
“Two years passed” … many say that time heals all wounds, but is that true? This is a fact that you need to know, without forgiveness and love, emotional wounds can never be healed. Instead, as time passed, unforgiveness created bitterness, bitterness produced anger, anger led to an action and reaction to sin. Illegitimate emotions lead to illegitimate actions. Time can be viewed as the progression of events from the past into the future. The decisions that we make create the path from our past to our present and to our future. If we choose not to forgive, whether or not those who hurt you repent of what they had done, the wound will not be healed but will become infected with bitterness.
Two years passed and Absalom never truly placed the situation in the hands of the Lord of righteous. Nor did he seek the comfort and healing of the Lord. Instead, he took revenge in his own hands and in his own way. As a result of the action that he took against Amnon, He brought further tragedy to king David’s family and his own. Furthermore, it did not bring any improvement to Tamar’s life either.
Forgiving one another, and forgiving ourselves, is a strength that comes from the love of Christ. We receive strength when we understand that while we were still sinners we were forgiven by God, who is holy and righteous. Forgiveness is not just a word spoken from heaven, His forgiveness also comes with His grace, His mercy, and His promises. Jesus descended from Heaven and made Himself nothing, choosing the path to calvary road, a road of injustice. Even then, He made a final statement: “…Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing…” (Luke 23:34, NIV) This is the strength we have when we understand how we are loved by God, and He offers this gift of forgiveness to all.
My dear friends, forgiveness is a love offering which we freely receive and which we should freely give.