As a kid, do you remember how many times you were told to go and forgive someone? Or the other way around, you had to go and ask for forgiveness. It’s a very hard thing to do. To bring yourself to a place where you can let your guard down before another.
In those moments of unforgiveness, what did you feel towards that person? Maybe you wish they would get dumped by their significant other at the time. Or, maybe you wanted them to get chewed out by the boss in the office.
Ok, how about this one. Have you ever wanted someone to be hit by a bus? Intense, we know.
Learn from Leslie Garcia in this daily devotional as she talks through the unforgiveness she experienced towards someone, and how she learned to let forgiveness overcome her thoughts of hatred.
I want to share Romans 2:11 with you today. It says, "For there is no partiality with God." There's another translation that says, "For God does not show favoritism."
When I was a bit younger, I went through this really terrible relationship that lasted for a long time. I remember when it ended, how broken and hurt I was by everything that this person had done. It was so much that I started to get upset. I really started to believe and think, I'm never going to forgive him. There's no chance I'm ever going to forgive him, ever.
I used to want him to get hit by a bus.
I know that's terrible, but that's how I really felt. I just wanted him to be gone and I was never going to forgive him for as long as I lived.
When I was dating my husband, I decided to tell him this story. He probably thought I was a total lunatic, but I told him this story and expressed how hurt I was. This guy from my past really messed me up. My husband is sitting there intently listening and I finally finished my story. You have to know, my husband is the nicest guy. So sweet. So sympathetic. I felt like he was just going to give me the most sympathetic response, like, “Come here. It's okay. I'm going to take your heart and I'm just going to polish it off for you.” But no. Do you know what this man said?
He looked at me and said, "You know that you're going to have to forgive him one day, right?"
No, no, no, no, no.
Why should I forgive him? And how could I? He didn't deserve my forgiveness at all. But you know what? Please don't tell him this because I'll never live it down. He was right. He was absolutely right.
Learning from Paul about favoritism and forgiveness.
So this passage, Romans 2:11, is sandwiched between these two paragraphs where Paul is talking to a community of people in Rome. He's talking to them about living right and doing right versus living wrong and doing wrong. He's talking to a community of believers - these are people of faith. Basically, these are people who should know better. That's who he's talking to. He's telling them, look you might be in a different place right now than you were when you first got here, but that doesn't make you any better than anybody else.
That's when it hit me.
I was in such a terrible place when I turned to God. Instead of refusing me, he looked at me and just accepted me and loved me and forgave everything that I had ever done. I realized if God can do that, then why should we act any differently? If God doesn't show any favoritism, but forgives and offers salvation, then that’s what we should be doing too. To tie it all back to this passage in Romans, here’s my takeaway. This is what I really want you to get.
I said to myself, "All right, Les, you got to stop hoping that he gets hit by a bus because that isn’t good. It's not helping anyone."
This is what I thought…
You can't offer salvation to anyone because you're not Jesus. I’m not going to die for you and I know you won’t die for me, and that's cool. We don't have to do that for each other but we can't offer each other salvation because we are not Christ.
However, we can offer forgiveness because we are Christlike.
Now I want you to ask yourself, what does that even mean to me? I'm not anywhere near ready to forgive anybody for anything that they've done to me. Have you ever been forgiven for even something small? Did you deserve it? Probably not. I know the times that I was forgiven, I did not deserve it at all.
Letting it go.
I'm going to be real with you for like two seconds. I have a scar on my nose and this scar was given to me by somebody who said, "I love you," and really didn't mean it.
I remember looking at this scar and holding so much anger. The scar was a reminder of what had been done to me and how much forgiveness that person did not deserve. But I finally just let it go. Now I look at this scar and instead of seeing all of the things that were done to me and all of the unforgiveness that I was holding onto, I look at the scar and I see a decision that I've made. A decision I made because of what I was given when I didn't deserve it.
I want to let you know that forgiveness is not only an option, but it's readily available to everybody. Maybe for you it isn't a past relationship where there's unforgiveness. It might be an unfair business deal. You've had to struggle ever since and there's so much unforgiveness in your heart towards this person because they stole your life from you.
It comes in many shapes and sizes.
I want to challenge you with something. Instead of holding on to all the anger and all the bitterness and anything that's holding you back from just saying, "I forgive you," I want you to take that first step of forgiveness, today. I want you right now, out loud, wherever you are, to say that person's name and then afterwards say, "I forgive you."
When you express it, you're putting it into motion. You're saying I am taking this step. I made a decision.
When those feelings of unforgiveness start creeping in again, remind yourself that you have already chosen to be forgiving. “So-and-so, I forgive you.” Why? Because we were forgiven. You and I, we were forgiven and we didn't deserve it. So let's do the same.
Let's pray together.
God, we thank you so much for the forgiveness that you have given us, the undeserved forgiveness. God, give us the strength to be forgiving towards people who have hurt us and caused us pain. Strengthen us, encourage us, and be with us. It's in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
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