forgiveness, mercy, grace, salvation, the Cross, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Compelled to Forgive: Forgiveness in Light of Grace

We are compelled to forgive not by our own strength or love for others, but by the staggering love of our Savior and His sacrifice on the cross.



For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15, NIV

The emotions all collided in that brief moment and the result was an eruption of tears. I sat there with my soon-to-be in-laws trying to contain the turmoil and confusion within me. But to no avail.

With the bitter taste of loss lingering in my heart and mind, I tried to come to some understanding as to why my friend would seemingly erase me from her life in the matter of a week.

Memories of our last time together only confused and our future plans, now vanished, were like salt in an open wound.

In the weeks that have followed, I’ve found myself face-to-face with the matter of forgiveness more than once. From sitting across the table helping another gal forgive a deep hurt, to every verse in the Bible somehow pointing to the discipline of forgiveness. And then to my own personal wrestling with forgiveness in the middle of the night.

Though the situation goes far deeper than the visible consequences and aftermath of my friend’s decision, there is still something that can be said about forgiveness in the midst of personal pain and offense.

We are compelled to forgive not by our own strength or love for others, but by the staggering love of our Savior and His sacrifice on the cross.  Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #TheCross #salvation #forgiveness #grace #mercy

A Slap Across the Face

As I expressed my hurt and confusion to a dear friend, she offered a piece of advice. You know, the kind of advice that will stick with you for the rest of your life…

As much as our hearts are grieved when a friend walks away, think about how much more God’s heart is grieved when we walk away from Him every single day.

My friend’s decision felt like a slap across the face. Dazed and confused, I tried to collect my thoughts and as I sorted through the broken pieces, I was gently reminded that in this hurting, I was not alone; that my Lord and Savior was also slapped across the face.

John 18 tells us the story –

Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. ‘I have spoken openly to the world,’ Jesus replied. ‘I always taught in the synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.’ When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. ‘Is this the way you answer the high priest?’ he demanded.

John 18:19-21, NIV

A Choice

Though the circumstances might vary, I’m sure we can all come up with at least one time when we have felt slapped across the face; when we have been wronged, accused, or slandered.

And in every case, we have done one of two things – reacted emotionally or responded gracefully.

If you’re like me, you can look back on the trail of emotional reactions you’ve left behind and regretted the words you’ve said. As we’ve grown and matured in our faith, we recognize how we could have handled certain situations better; how we could have responded with grace rather than with anger.

And in realizing this, I for one have found myself in a self-imposed solitary reprimanding over and over again to be better, to forgive quicker, and to never allow feelings of anger to consume me like that again.

Despite what we may think, this is not where being compelled to forgive comes from. We will never be able to muster up the strength to forgive within ourselves. We must look up from our magnifying glass focused on the molehill of offense, to see the mountain of offense that is our own.

Mountains and Molehills

The slap across the face that Jesus received might as well have been by my own hand.

Even when we feel deeply wronged by a brother or sister, the fact remains that we greatly wrong God every single day; slapping His Son across the face every time we act in sin and rebellion against Him.

This is our mountain of offense.

Our looking upon this mountain is not for the purpose of punishment, guilt-tripping, or shaming us. But it is for the ultimate goal of being consumed and compelled by the cross.

As we are convinced of our great need and that ‘though our sins are many, his mercy is more,’ we realize what marvelous freedom we have in Christ; that because He died for all, we are relentlessly pursued by grace rather than justice; that God’s righteous wrath was satisfied on the cross and therefore, we are daily pardoned of great offense.

Gazing at our mountain brings us not to a place of shame and cowering, but to a place of holy reverence; rejoicing in the great reality that our multitude of sins have been exonerated. We are found blameless before God Almighty and are at perfect peace with Him, in Christ Jesus.

In the past, I’ve believed that feelings of peace and joy are what indicated I had indeed forgiven someone ‘successfully.’ The messages that we receive today leave us with the impression that when we truly forgive someone, all the hurt, confusion, and pain will immediately dissolve. We will feel nothing but peace…

Compelled to Forgive

While I do believe this can happen over time, it puts across the false message that if we have yet to experience those feelings, then we haven’t truly forgiven. We must, therefore, try harder.

However, the reality is that it is not our own strength of motivation moving us towards forgiveness. It is the love of Christ that compels us to forgive. Through Him, we are compelled to forgive.

When the love we receive from Christ (made evident by the cross) and the peace we have with God (as a result of the cross) compels us – and trust me, it will compel us when we diligently and daily focus on the cross – the molehill of offense caused by a brother or sister comes into perspective. It becomes less significant and a lot easier to release into the loving care of our Savior.

We are compelled to forgive not by our own strength or love for others, but by the staggering love of our Savior. Our Savior who died for all so we no longer live for ourselves, but for Him.

So today, as you wrestle with forgiveness, I encourage you to take a moment and consider the cross. Really contemplate its implications, its meaning, and the weight of Christ’s anguish on your behalf.

Allow your heart to be broken by Jesus’ suffering. May you be filled with a love and a peace that compels us to care for and forgive others.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27, NIV
We are compelled to forgive not by our own strength or love for others, but by the staggering love of our Savior. Our Savior who died for all so we no longer live for ourselves, but for Him. Click To Tweet

We are compelled to forgive not by our own strength or love for others, but by the staggering love of our Savior and His sacrifice on the cross.  Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #TheCross #salvation #forgiveness #grace #mercy

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt
striving, hope, joy, righteousness, peace, glory, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Striving: Focusing on God’s Glory to Share His Love

Striving to show others the love of God is not what was ever intended by our Creator. We often fall short. Focusing on Him alone is the only way to align our hearts and share His love.



Flowers.

I would have never guessed that flowers would be the last straw. You know, the straw that broke the camel’s back?

I might have expected it to be the dress; or maybe even the food, but certainly not the flowers.

In striving to show others God's love, we often fall short. Focusing on Him alone is the only way to align our hearts and share His love. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #hope #righteousness #striving #joy #peace

Striving for the Wedding

Our wedding was quickly approaching. My fiancé and I had been working diligently at planning a simple, yet elegant wedding. It had been really well! There were some stressful moments, sure, but generally, it was pretty easy and enjoyable.

Until it wasn’t…

With a cart full of flowers and one attempt after the other to keep this expense as small as possible, the reality finally set in. Flowers are simply a large cost, regardless of my greatest efforts.

And that’s when things started spiraling.

God’s Love, Not Ours

From Day 1 of our engagement, my fiancé and I have been set on using this special day to display God’s love story more than our own. 

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 has been a bedrock verse for us in this season of life. Constantly serving as a reminder that it is Christ’s love that compels us and not our own. 

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15, NIV

That doesn’t mean the hype of wedding planning hasn’t crowded my thoughts though. Over the last several weeks, from reserving venues to deciding on our bridal party; from wedding dress shopping to premarital counseling, the wedding has been at the forefront of my thoughts.

Understandable as this may be, when I found myself crying over a $20 purchase of ugly flowers that didn’t match my vision but fit the budget, I realized that some things had gotten out of line.

Approaching God’s Word

Sometimes we read passages like 2 Corinthians 5 with the right idea, but still just slightly off from its original meaning. God’s Word is perfect, flawless, and infallible, but that doesn’t mean its readers are. Which is why it is so important we approach the Word of God wisely and with diligent devotion to understanding it correctly.

Thank God for His grace in this though, because we don’t always do this well. 

I realized that I was focusing so much on the ‘no longer living for myself’ part that I missed the ‘living for Him’ part. I’ve been so preoccupied with trying to be selfless with my time and money in the fine details; trying to make it a day that displays Christ more than myself that I neglected the condition of my heart in doing so.

Living for Him

Romans 14:17 tells us that ‘the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.’

When we consider the context of this passage, Paul is encouraging the believers in Rome to discern religion from relationship. It does not matter if someone eats food that is clean or unclean according to the Law. With Christ seated at the right hand of God the Father in absolute victory over sin and death, it is no longer about following the written code. However, about growing in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. And, thus, serving Christ with such a heart.

We could have the greatest, most pure motives, yet if our hearts are not resting in the Holy Spirit and in the grace of Jesus Christ, then regardless of what we do or how well we do it, we’ll be missing the point.

We could have the greatest, most pure motives, yet if our hearts are not resting in the Holy Spirit and in the grace of Jesus Christ, then regardless of what we do or how well we do it, we’ll be missing the point. Click To Tweet

Striving To Do What’s Been Done

I don’t believe that God gets angry or disappointed with us when we get distracted like this. I truly believe He delights in our efforts and our diligence to glorify Him rather than ourselves. However, I believe it saddens Him when we strive so hard to do what He has already done.

Christ is glorious. That’s a fact and it will never change. He doesn’t need us to make Him glorious. He simply is. Yet He invites us to join in the blessing of sharing that with others. But when we attempt to do this in our own strength, we stray from what truly pleases the Lord.

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Psalm 147:10-11, NIV

The greatest attempts at pointing others to Christ or at seeking to glorify Him rather than ourselves, if done without an appropriate fear of the Lord and hope in His unfailing love, remains empty.

So as our desire may be to use our wedding day as a display of God’s greater love story more than our own, by God’s grace He gently reminded me, through tears and a weary heart, that I need to first see Him. See Him as glorious and worthy before effectively displaying that to others.

Proverbs 4:23 tells us plainly that we are to ‘guard our hearts, for everything we do flows from it.’ If our hearts are not resting and focusing on the glory of Christ and His unfathomable love for us, then any attempt on our part to display that to others will be tainted and ineffective.

A Place of Hope

Is there something that you have been trying so hard to do right, but feel like you’re still running in circles?

Do you feel no matter how great your efforts to honor and glorify God are, you still come up short and exhausted?

Sister, this is not how it is supposed to be. Looking at the glory of God through the grace of Jesus and pointing others to it was never intended to exhaust us. It was meant to rejuvenate, refresh, and fill us to the brim (Matthew 11:28-30, Psalm 19:7-9).

Take a moment today and evaluate your heart. Are your attempts coming from a place of hope or striving? Righteousness or regret? Peace or panic? Joy or duty?

God loves it when you desire to serve Him (John 12:26), but He delights even more in a heart that is aligned with His; in a heart that finds righteousness, peace and joy in Him alone.

In striving to show others God's love, we often fall short. Focusing on Him alone is the only way to align our hearts and share His love. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #hope #righteousness #striving #joy #peace

unsplash-logoJez Timms