Forgiveness. When you read that word how do you feel it in your heart and your body? Who or what came to mind? In the privacy of your own thoughts, what does the dialogue around forgiveness sound like? Are you struggling to extend forgiveness to someone who is longing for it or are you longing for someone to forgive you? Quite often, the hardest person to forgive is - yourself. Forgiveness. It’s commanded. It’s complicated. Or, is it? In its simplest form, forgiveness is something Jesus instructs us to do. In Matthew 6, Jesus is not speaking about forgiveness that comes with salvation. He is teaching His disciples (us) how to live out His teaching in the world that will bring completeness and wholeness (shalom) to ourselves, our homes, our communities, and our world. And as it turns out, forgiveness is a key component. Similarly, unforgiveness locks us in a prison of our own making. I’ve heard it said, unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. That’s not living in freedom. Process and pray through these thoughts: 1. Forgiveness makes no sense in human terms. It cannot be done in the “flesh” - it is a supernatural act of the Holy Spirit in you and through you. 2. Forgiveness is a choice, and not a feeling. 3. There is a distinction between choosing to forgive and then feeling the emotions associated with the offense when we remember it. Over time, the emotions will disengage from the memories. We can forgive but forgetting is entirely different. 4. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. In the shadow of your hurt it feels like a decision to reward your betrayer, but in the shadow of the cross - it becomes a gift, from one undeserving soul to another. 5. God initiated forgiveness and as image bearers, we reflect that to a broken world. 6. Forgiveness does not excuse the offense nor does it imply a continued relationship with a harmful person. It simply sets you free. If you feel buried under the weight of unforgiveness, consider processing that with your biblical community, trusted friends, or Christ-centered counselor.