While reminiscing about 2020, there are a lot of feelings and thoughts that come to mind (not all good). I would assume that most of you would feel the same way. But when I think about Christmas, there is so much HOPE that comes with this time of the year. Why? Simply put, because of Jesus and all that He has given us. He fills our lives with the hope of His love, peace, joy, grace and forgiveness.
I don’t know about you, but I need His forgiveness! Christmas is all about a gift exchange, right? You will get gifts and you will give them. We should look at the inaugural Christmas in that way as well. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8.
We need to know that forgiveness is not a gift just to be received; it’s also a gift to give away. This is illustrated in Colossians 3:13 as it reads, “Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”
Forgiving others is a complex topic. So to understand what it is, let’s talk about what it is not. Some think forgiveness is forgetting what happened. Nope! It’s forgiving while you still remember. Unforgiveness is like a ball and chain that you carry around. It will exhaust you, while also potentially hurting those around you.
Others might think that forgiveness is trusting again. That, also, is not always the case. Trust may or may not ever be earned again. But forgiveness can still be given, even without renewed trust.
It could be thought that by offering forgiveness, you are demeaning the offense. For example, “I guess it wasn’t that bad” or “that didn’t hurt so bad.” It’s ok to say it was bad, or that it did indeed hurt. That’s why you remember it. Jesus never downgraded our sin to forgive us.
I’m reminded of a story of a Christmas truce. On Christmas Eve, 1914, in World War 1, the French, Germans and British soldiers made a truce. It started when the British and French heard the Germans singing “Silent Night.” After singing, the Germans started yelling out “Merry Christmas” and ultimately started walking towards their enemies. The British thought it was a trick but when they saw their weapons were down they reluctantly walked toward them too. They all started singing together in their native languages. They exchanged simple gifts like food and trinkets as they sang together.
Interestingly enough, the next day when the war commenced, the generals couldn’t get the soldiers to fight each other again. So the commanding officers literally had to reassign them to different fronts. It is important for us to know that forgiveness can be even more powerful than war.
There are three things worth noting from this story: First off, someone had to take the first step. From there, they all had to drop their weapons. What weapons would you need to drop in order to give or receive forgiveness? Then finally, they focused on what united them. It was their faith. Let us stay in a place where we remember the forgiveness that Jesus has given to us. That way we can give forgiveness to those around us. I’m thankful that Jesus took the first step towards me; aren’t you? ν