Thursday, August 16, 2012

Forgiven and Forgiving

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive
and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
~1 John 1:9

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
~Matthew 6:14

Are you wearing forgiveness like a crown?

Or are you hiding it, afraid of what the enemy says of you?

I have been immensely inspired by this message on wearing forgiveness like acrown. And in this entry, I will be adding a few reflections of my own.

You see, I used to be a people-conscious person. I still am but by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in me, I am slowly (and at times, painfully) being continually transformed to the image of Christ. That said, I was obsessive-compulsive to the point of being perfectionist—I worked hard to achieve, to win accolades, to gain the approval of the people around me, and to prevail over them. I lived to please myself by pleasing those around me.

As a staunch Roman Catholic then, I found it hard to accept that no matter how hard I try to be good, I would always fail. It was frustrating to think that heaven was always out of my reach.

It was in this frustration of realizing that I can never be perfect that I was led to Christ. It was in the pain of realizing that I can never please everybody that a deep desire and hunger for something more was created in my heart.

And I bumped into the man-god Jesus Christ. Actually, the more I think about it, He intentionally bumped into me to catch my attention as I have always ignored His pursuit of me.

In Him, I found completeness. In Him, I discovered that as a human being, I can never be perfect and righteous on my own. In my encounter of Him, I finally understood that He alone can fill all my inequities and inadequacies. In Him, I found forgiveness for all my sins—past, present, and future.

But as I have said earlier in this entry, it is my human nature to be a perfectionist. And knowing the enemy’s cunning tactics as an accuser, there were a lot of times in my early Christian life that I felt frustrated and it was incredulous for me to believe that I am already forgiven.

But in my a-little-more than three years of Christian journey, I have learned the importance of flaunting the forgiveness and salvation I have in Jesus Christ. I have learned to wear forgiveness like a crown. By His grace, I was enabled and equipped to claim victory in His Cross and Resurrection.

Christ taught me to cling to ancient Truth and to listen to His word instead of being persuaded by the whispers and deceptions of the enemy. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And the moment I accepted Him, His love for me is and will always be complete and perfect.
Another way of flaunting God’s forgiveness in my life is to extend the same forgiveness He has given me to other people, believers or unbelievers alike. This is what the Lord has especially spoken to me for the past month.

The words of Christ in Matthew 5:23-24 are very clear. This is one of the best illustrations that in the eyes of God, obedience is better than sacrifice. As a Christian, I am to forgive and set my heart right in accordance to His will before I can come and fully experience His presence.

As such, I have to show forgiveness to fellow Christians. Because just like me, they are sinners who have been saved by His grace and needing His grace in each moment. Just like me, they are also God’s work in progress. Just like me, they falter and fall but just like me, Jesus is working in them and building them up into His image and likeness.

I have to forgive them because just like them, I am also a sinner always forgiven by Him.

I have to forgive the unbelievers because this is what Jesus commands of me. In fact, this is what He did for me. And this is His continuing invitation for the unbelievers: His forgiveness for all their past, present, and future sins. Since I am already in Christ, I have to reflect His glory; I have to mirror the same invitation to them—to come to Christ as sinners and accept Him as their personal Lord and Savior. I can only do this if I show them forgiveness just as Christ has shown me.

I have to forgive them because once in my life, I was just like them—a sinner, lost, confused, and seeking for the Truth.

When I forgive other people, I wear Christ’s forgiveness like a crown. I radiate His glory and majesty. I mirror His never-ending compassion and perfect love. When forgiveness (from Him and to other people) is always in my heart, I live life with so much positivity, giving more room for the Holy Spirit to work in my life to make me fruitful in His works through me and in me.

When I ask and accept the Lord’s forgiveness and extend the same forgiveness to everyone, I keep my accounts short, making me always prepared to meet the Lord, in death or in rapture.

How about you? Are you wearing forgiveness like a crown? Join my prayer to make each and every one of us aware of who we are in Christ: forgiven and always forgiving.