1 & 2 Corinthians: Day 25

A Sinner Forgiven

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Today's Text: 2 Corinthians 2:5-17, Matthew 6:14-15, Colossians 3:12-17

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:5-17, Matthew 6:14-15, Colossians 3:12-17

For weeks, I have grappled with these passages in 2 Corinthians. Forgiveness is such a complicated, messy, and integral part of the Christian faith. And if I’m honest, I don’t know if I understand how it works, or whether I’m practicing it well in my life.

When I really let myself think about forgiveness, it touches raw nerves. It calls up painful memories of the times I’ve been hurt, and the times I’ve done the hurting. And that doesn’t feel good. In fact, I’d rather just forget about those parts of my life and move on.

But contrary to popular belief, Jesus does not call us to “forgive and forget.” Christian forgiveness does not require rose-colored glasses or some “spiritual” version of denial. What it does require is faith that if Jesus has carried the weight of our sin, He can also carry the weight of our wounds.

God doesn’t minimize our offenses. He doesn’t wave them away with a magic wand of denial. Nor does He offer empty cop-outs. Instead, He enacted an eternal, and costly, plan to set things right.

The God-man of great sorrow, Jesus, was well acquainted with the evil of this world (Isaiah 53:3), and He refused to ignore it. Instead, He chose to bear the debt on His own back. Knowing that God could not be in the presence of unholy people, Jesus put on our unholiness and gave us His perfect record in return. The sin was heavy, and Jesus carried it, though He didn’t resent us while carrying the cross. He didn’t wait for us to ask Him to do it, either. He forgave us before we even knew we needed forgiveness—because He loved us first.

As impossible as it sometimes feels, we are called to emulate Christ. “For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15). Still, forgiveness is not easy. It does not eliminate pain. Forgiveness is an active, voluntary choice to carry the weight of someone else’s sin. It does not guarantee that we will be reconciled to that person, nor that the relationship will ever be the same. Forgiveness says, “You no longer have to make up for what you did to me. I will carry the cost.”

But I’m not Jesus. So even my ability to forgive is imperfect. One of Jesus’ disciples once asked whether it was fair to forgive someone seven times, and Jesus replied,

“I tell you, not as many as seven… but seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22).

I don’t believe that is a call to be abused over and over again by the same person. In my life, that has meant actively forgiving someone for the same crime, even as I find myself feeling resentful again. When the bitterness returns, I can choose to let that old wound fester, or I can put on the salve of forgiveness. There may still be a scar, but I am no longer keeping the wound open in order to prove how much I’ve been hurt.

When forgiveness is hard, faith reminds me to focus less on what someone did to me, and more on what Jesus did for me. It is in that posture of humility that I can bring my wounds and my sins back to the feet of Jesus. It is there that He reminds me that even when my suffering feels heavy, He is the one who ultimately carries it all.

SRT-Corinthians-Shareimage-Day25

Claire Gibson is a writer whose work has been featured in publications including The Washington Post and Entrepreneur Magazine among many others. An Army kid who grew up at West Point, New York, Claire is currently growing roots in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Patrick, their son, Sam, and their dog, Winnie. Her debut novel, Beyond the Point, will be published next year.

  • Clare this was absolutely phenomenal. I’ve saved this to my favorites. Thank you so much for this!

  • Margaret Terry

    “Forgiveness says you no longer have to make up for the things you did to me….I WILL CARRY THE COST! Wow, those words jumped off the page at me….forgiving means being willing to carry the hurt and the consequences of something someone has done to you, I never thought of it that way before! But it puts a spotlight on my lack of forgiveness of my ex husband. I keep thinking one day he will come and acknowledge that his choice had a profound effect on 3 other people’s lives, and that then I will feel peace…..no! I need to accept carrying those consequences with out getting that acknowledgement, if I want to emulate Jesus, and I do! Imagine the unfairness of His situation!

  • This was exactly what I needed today.

  • Renae Pearson

    Thank you for this! I’m glad to know you really wrestled through this passage before writing the devo!

    Bearing the weight of other’s sins, even if they don’t realize they’ve sinned! Whew! That takes work!

  • Brianna Foshie

    Forgiveness is something ive struggled with my whole life. My dad chose to let evil in his heart and broke our family when I was 5. Growing up I’ve went back and forth with forgiving him and being angry. I’ve come to terms and have stopped being angry and have just forgiven and the last couple of years have been the best because of that even though my dad is still not around. Now I’m struggling with finding the balance of forgiving my mother in law for things she has done but also protecting myself and my son from the things she does.

    • Ashley Bell

      I understand I have a similar family dynamic. I will pray for you. My dad has been a thorn in my life. I love him but he also has abused me emotionally. He is in bondage and cannot see it because he is always the victim. I have to have him in my life but in that I have to learn to surrender my fears, judgements and defensive qualities. Also balancing forgiveness with setting restrictions for myself and kids. He needs counciling but I jest realized I need to let that go and I cannot fix him. Jesus can fix him not me. Only Jesus can set things right not me. I pray you experience healing and peace. Keep God’s truth in the forefront of your mind.

  • Anna Wright

    Thank you for this… there are a few things in the las couple months that have happened that have left me hurt and though I thought I was forgiving and moving on, I know that any time someone asked how I was doing I was ready to download all the things that have hurt me lately. I realise I was keeping the wound open because I wanted to prove how hurt I was. Instead of letting the healing happen I was picking at the wound. Time for the salve of forgiveness to be put on and left on

  • Deb Williams

    I just finished a study about “Hidden Unforgiveness “ written by Sherrie McCorkle. It was an amazing study as each of us attending realized there were many thing tucked within our hearts that we really needed to release and forgive as the Bible tells us we must do.
    Sherrie spent many years at the feet of Jesus as she wrote this book.
    I am so grateful for being able to address and release these issues so as not to hinder my walk with Jesus. Liberating!

    • Kathleen Latham

      Deb Williams, where did you get the study? I can’t find it except to pre-order the book.

  • When my husband first confessed his affair to me, forgiveness was not my first thought. It was anger. And hurt. Lots of hurt, actually. Over time, I have been able to forgive. But it has taken time. And there are moments when I have to forgive again. There were people in my life who pushed me to forgive quickly. He wanted me to forgive quickly. But I just couldn’t. It took time. It took growth on my part. It took me leaning into Christ and finding comfort from Him. At first I felt guilty…why can’t I just forgive? But through the process I have realized that I needed that time. My husband needed that time. I didn’t drag him through the streets. We worked on things privately, with wise counsel. I didn’t want him to suffer and pay for what he did, but I wanted to feel my hurt, because by feeling it, I could talk to God about it and He could heal me, He could heal us. I believe that time was necessary. Forgiveness takes time. It’s not forgetting. It’s not going to remove the scar. But it does allow you and the other person to begin again, to move forward, to love in spite of the hurt. The 70 times 7 response of Christ…I have held onto that. To me it says, it takes time. Keep trying to forgive. Keep working towards it. Don’t beat yourself up because you can’t immediately forgive. But keep leaning into Christ, ask Him to help you, and move forward.

  • Dear SRT sisters may I ask for prayers. I am going through a challenging time. My fears anxieties and worries have taken over. I feel under attack and dearly need support. I am in therapy and attend support groups but still feel overtaken by my circumstances. I ask for forgiveness for my doubts and confess that my faith has been weakened by this. I have lost confidence and pray to know God’s will for me. I want to give this burden to him knowing he cares for me more than I know. That God truly loves me. But the struggle to feel that in my heart has been difficult. Every part of my life is in need of restoration. I pray for spiritual, mental and physical healing to be whole again. I pray to be surrounded by support and to feel His everlasting loving arms around me. To know He is sheltering me and has me covered with His armor and protection. Psalm 91:4. I have great needs such as to find safe products to use due to chemical allergies( and the confidence to try them-this has been so difficult for me but I need to begin this process such fear here), a job that can sustain me (my spousal support is ending and I had tried to prepare for this but had life circumstances hit hard), a new place to live that will be comfortable and a place to truly call home that I can also furnish ( I do not have living room or dining room furniture). I also have medical bills coming in that I will need to pay and this has been overwhelming me. I feel so under pressure from all of this. I pray that God will see me through this and I will come out the other side healed and whole again. I am having a hard time believing in this and would truly appreciate your prayers. Thank you so very much.

    • Kat T

      Julie- your awareness and willingness to seek support in this storm, from sisters in Christ and from the Lord are inspiring! I pray that you find the peace that only He can give (John 14:27)

      • Kathleen Latham

        Hi Julie, I’m praying for you!
        In answer to products you’re looking for because of chemical allergies, have you ever heard of a company called Melaleuca? It’s an online company and they have representatives that they usually want you to buy through so if you know someone who is signed up with them, ask them about the products. I know so many people who have been able to use these organic, non-chemical products when nothing else worked for them, including myself.
        I’m praying about your other situations as well!

    • Anne

      Praying for you! That you would tangibly feel God’s comfort and love pouring out to you. He is with you in this, He will not abandon you during this time of suffering. Cling to Him.

    • Elizabeth Alyse

      Hi Julie – I went through a similar time when I was diagnosed with PTSD, and I wanted to share two pieces of advice my father gave me. (1) Everything you’re experiencing is temporary, even though it doesn’t feel like it right now. (2) Your worst day of your life can be the best day of your life because You can prove to yourself what you’re made of.
      I heard those words in my head over and over the months I was going through really intense therapy and they really helped me.

      I would also like to share some things I did to cope… every night I would read psalms, write down three things I was grateful for, and something I learned that day. Ending the day on a high note was difficult sometimes but it would pull me out of my stress right before sleep.

      I’m praying for you

  • ioa a pavel

    amen

  • Monica Davis

    Forgiveness is hard.

  • “He didn’t wait for us to ask Him to do it, either. He forgave us before we even knew we needed forgiveness—because He loved us first.” This got me to thinking about the different types of forgiveness, not just the blatant, “I know I hurt you, will you forgive me” forgiveness, but also forgiveness for those who are not aware they hurt us. As I often do, I landed on some articles by John Piper and wanted to share.

    “My number one responsibility before God and my number one challenge in holiness is not getting others changed but getting myself changed so that I respond in godly, Christlike, humble, loving ways even if what is being said is hurtful. One of the main obstacles to forgiving, forbearing, returning good for evil, blessing those who hurt us, is that if we truly and authentically do this, then very few people, if anybody, will know that we have been hurt. And that is the challenge.

    For most of us, we want the person who has wounded us to be aware that they have wounded us, and we don’t want to act in a way that looks as if they didn’t hurt us — that looks as if it makes light of the fact that they wounded us or insulted us or put us down or criticized us in an inappropriate way or cheated on us. And all of this is a huge obstacle to obeying the Lord when he says, “Do not return evil for evil, but bless those who do you harm”

    The key is how important and how satisfying it is that God knows we have been hurt, that God understands and God attends to us. God feels with us. Is that enough? If we’re honest in examining this question, our hearts tend to be oriented more on other people than on God. 1 Peter 2:19 says, “This is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.” God delights in it. We are pleasing God at that moment. So, is it enough for God to know our sorrow, for God to know our pain, for God to know our disappointment, our frustration? Can we hand our cause entirely over to God? Can we move forward treating others better than they treat us, even if it means only God knows and nobody else? That is how real God has to become to us for us to truly forgive.”

    This has given me much to think about today. I am thankful that God works within us for good and will see us to completion. I pray I can focus on what Christ has done for me rather than what others have done to me, and learn to lay my hurt and burdens on God. When I carry them around with me, they can be used to stir my heart to sin against those who have hurt me, but when they are left with God, the only thing I’ll have left to offer those people, is the love of Christ.

    • Kara

      Powerful! I’ve been struggling with bitterness for some people who hurt me. I’m realizing I need to forgive even if God is the only one who sees. Something to pray about…

  • Adrienne Staton

    Sometimes there are messages you just need to hear or read. This message seems important as of late. Last week our pastor was talking about 1 Corinthians 13:5, “Love keeps no records of wrongs.” He said that at times if you are keeping a record that the weight of all that can feel like a backpack filled with rocks that you are ready to throw later. I wept, all too often I find it easy to forgive others, but the most difficult to forgive myself. This is an absolutely wonderful message and thank you for sharing.

  • Thank you! <3

  • Erin Emmerich

    My husbands dad was very hurtful to their family and after leaving them for the last time he developed cancer. My husband had forgiven him but God challenged him even further to love him. Love him just as a man, not a a father who hurt him time and time again, but as a creation of God. He realized though he forgave him he didn’t love him totally. Before his dad passed away he was able to share a song he wrote for him and tell him he loved him… I feel that this forgiveness toward his father was an essential step before being able to love him the way Jesus called us to love others, even our enemies.

  • Carol Pierce

    Forgiveness is about Christ. It’s not about the hurt or the person who executed the hurt. Do I love Christ enough to obey him? Thank you ladies for your faithful teaching of Scripture. The reminders of Truth lived in our daily lives mean so much & help to keep my feet on the “narrow way”.

    • Ashley Bell

      I just want to add that our hurt and the depth of that hurt magnifies what Jesus did for us. We should see that forgiveness isn’t easy and for most of us it’s a process as we are constantly being renewed in our spirit and mind. It is challenging to separate hurt from just being obedient . So if anyone is experiencing that you are not alone and God will get you to the place. He loves you.

  • Micayla Angel

    I was very moved by this devotional, but have to admit I am struggling with the author’s definition of forgiveness as being a “voluntary choice to carry the weight of someone else’s sin.” I believe this is Jesus’ role as the sacrifice for humanity, but not our role. I can’t carry the weight of my own sin, let alone anyone else’s! We are called to cast our burdens upon Jesus. I agree that forgiveness requires releasing the other person from any debt towards us, but I believe we are to give that burden to the Lord, not carry it ourselves. I understand the message the author is saying here but some of this wording does not sit right with me. Anyone else have some insight on this?

    • Sarah D.

      I felt that way too, Micayla. The wording there is a little confusing to me…but I think the main thing (that I’ve learned) is to forgive because it sets you free from anger/bad feelings towards the person, and not letting those feelings or thoughts about them rule over your life anymore. I agree too, that as we forgive, we should then give the burden over to God and let Him handle the rest.

    • Jamie C

      I was feeling the same as you Micayla. I actually wrote the author’s definition down, circled it and wrote a big question mark. ??????

    • Jen

      I understood the writer to be sharing that forgiveness is always a choice. We chose to forgive, it doesn’t just happen. And when we make the active choice to forgive we know the person that sinned against us my not have asked to be forgiven, we except that it happened (we carry it) but we have chosen to forgive anyway. By forgiving as God told us he wanted us to do it is all carried by God. If we forgive He forgives. I think this is why it is a choice. Just like excepting Christ is a choice. That is how I understand it.

    • Katelyn Kenney

      I connect with what you’re saying here about casting our burdens on Jesus. Forgiveness is one of those tricky things that’s way harder in practice when you’ve actually been hurt by someone. Maybe carrying the cost can be interpreted as bearing the story or holding onto the truth of a situation. I’m really not sure. Maybe that’s what people mean when they say we can only truly let past transgressions go to God when we forgive the transgressor.

    • Alice Carroll

      Hiya, I think that it means this. If someone were to deliberately scrape my car and I chose to forgive them, then they don’t pay for the paint job, but I carry the weight of it. In the same way, if I’m hurt emotionally and forgive, then I give up the right to retribution and carry the weight of the pain they have inflicted on me. So the weight of the sin is not like Jesus, as He alone takes away sin, but it is the weight of having to deal with someone else’s wrong doing. Hope that makes some sense!

    • Annesta Lunde

      I had the same questions. I’m still thinking about this essay and praying the Holy Spirit will guide me in understanding and application.

  • Carol Ames

    Thank you this really hit home to me. The not dwelling on what has been done to us but what He has done for us. Thank you Lord for reminding me.

  • Jennifer Martin

    So beautiful and much needed. I love the idea of using forgiveness to close the wound instead of letting the pain prove how much I was hurt by certain people. Thank you for this word. ❤️

  • Courtney Javier

    Thank you for this. I truly appreciate the author jumping straight into the text right away in her devo.

  • Heather Totten

    Forgiveness is such a beautiful expression of Gods love. I pray that I can give that kind of love also!

  • Cynthia Johnston

    Forgiving another opens the door to the prison in which you reside. You are released into freedom.

  • I’ve also learned that forgiveness doesn’t justify what you or the other person did. It doesn’t suddenly make it okay. It doesn’t mean you need to become friends with that person again. But there is freedom in letting go of harsh feelings towards someone and not letting it rule over your life. Learned that in middle school when some “friends” turned out not to be so friendly to me…and also learning it as my brother goes through divorce. How his wife changed and how she is acting now is wrong and incomprehensible…But forgiveness is still here. Praying to forgive today.

  • Claire, thank you. I have carried a pain for year’s because a church told me that if I hav’t forgotten I havn’t forgiven!! In my heart i knew i have forgiven—- but this was balm to my wound!

    • Bunny perry

      I think it’s our human nature not to forget. My gracious I still haven’t forgotten my accident and have forgiven myself for it, but I won’t forget for a very long time!

  • Churchmouse

    Forgiveness. Not easy but for Christians, necessary. Forgiveness, however, does not exclude boundaries. I can forgive those who have hurt me (not seeking to hurt them back). But trusting them requires evidence of changed behavior over time. It’s so important to pray for discernment and wisdom regarding future encounters. There are certainly times when i need to limit or remove myself from toxic situations and relationships – both to protect myself and also to protect them lest I react and sin. Forgive – yes – but also proceed with caution. For my benefit and theirs. Either way, my witness is secure.

    • Irina

      Does Christ proseed with the same caution after He forgives you again and again? And your reaction and sin to the people who “require ” caution from your side, does not it show that you had not forgave them in your heart? Just honest questions that I would ask myself.

      • Churchmouse

        Having had a male friend threaten to slice my face years ago… Yes in certain circumstances boundaries are reasonable. I seek no ill will towards him as I’m sure there are deep seated reasons behind his volatile anger. But I will not put myself in his presence again. Nor would I recommend any victim of violence to do so. That’s not unforgiveness. It’s wisdom.

    • PamC

      I had to learn to forgive & set boundaries through Celebrate Recovery. Those boundaries are so important. It really helps me to rely on the Lord’s guidance daily. To forgive daily as well. Just as I sin daily so do others. Prayer and remembering “above all, put on love…”

  • Jessica Terpstra

    Beautifully written! Thank you!

  • I like the part about the fragrance we have ( 2 Corinth 2:15). Some like our smell and others do not. We can sense this sometimes and it is not personal, it’s that we represent God. This is part of picking up our cross and carrying it with confidence and peace. Love this thought. Helps me not feel rejection from some who don’t believe as I do. God is with me and he approves. My aroma pleases Him.

    • Elaine

      i liked that part too! it made me think of how families all have a differwnt smell, and that if we become a child of God we will get that new, godly family smell on us.

    • Bev

      That verse jumped out at me, too. So I did some digging and I found this commentary from F.B. Meyer:
      “A sweet savour of Christ! It does not consist so much in what we do, but in our manner of doing it; not so much in our words or deeds, as in an indefinable sweetness, tenderness, courtesy, unselfishness, and desire to please others to their edification. It is the breath and fragrance of a life hidden with Christ in God, and deriving its aroma from fellowship with Him. Wrap the habits of your soul in the sweet lavender of your Lord’s character.”

  • Michelle Martin

    What a refreshing perspective that we do not have to find a way to Forgive and Forget. Away from the humanly impossible Forgetting, and embracing the release that comes from saying, “You no longer have to make up for what you did to me.” Thanks be to God that he chose to offer that same release to me through his loving work on the cross!

  • Melissa Hamlin

    Thank you! The timing for this is so perfect. ❤️

  • Kim Lamgo

    I appreciate the description of using the “salve of forgiveness” in order to close a wound. Scars are so much easier to deal with than open wounds and so much less painful too! Today’s message gives me much to think and pray on.

  • This is wonderful! Thank you Claire.

  • Liz Tardo

    This! Timely and needed right now. Thankful to be reminded of the love and protection we find in our Heavenly Father. Love to you all ladies!

  • Kendra Davito

    Love this! Thank you. What we focus on increases! Stop focusing on what others have done to me, INSTEAD focus on what Christ has done for me! Great shift in perspective!

  • Vicki Macklin

    “Forgiveness is an active, voluntary choice to carry the weight of someone else’s sin.” and “There may still be a scar, but I am no longer keeping the wound open in order to prove how much I’ve been hurt.” So powerful. Thank you for this reminder of how important forgiveness is, even when the other person hasn’t asked for it.

  • It is so easy to say and moan … let me rephrase that… MOAN. MOAN. MOAN. ..that we have been wronged… isn’t it?
    I remember a time when I wanted the world to know that I had been wronged.. i wanted to name and shame ..I thought about putting the offenders picture on every lamp post with home wrecker across it…
    But here’s the thing, the journey I had been on until then was not one that brought comfort or peace… only God… and God alone was the source of my peace… so this woman and her actions, in the midst of our grieving a great loss, was stirring up stuff I had no strength to face.. I turned to me for what to do… how best to deal with the situation …

    But God. … He reminded me of all He has done and that He is the One to look to.. He is the One to hold on to.. to seek. Not to seek revenge.. not to disgrace the woman.. for she has a family that would be heart broken and sad..
    Forgiveness, is hard at the best of times… but by God, it feels harder when you are already broken and someone’s actions smashes you even more..But the Good Lord, has walked with me through it all to the point I have no malice in my heart for this woman not one bit..
    I am a sinner… I have done and will do things I will not be proud of.. but I pray God’s heart will be in the heart of those I have hurt, may hurt and that forgiveness will flow in the love anf grace god gives them to do so.

    I’m rambling…

    Happy Thursday with love and hugs to all.. xx

    • lynne

      Thanks for sharing Tina!! I didn’t feel like you were rambling. I need to hear it because I have a lot of forgiving to give and people have a lot of forgiving to do because of me. Thankfully there is forgiveness. “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9 God is awesome!!

    • PamC

      Thank you Tina. It’s been so hard for me to forgive some things. This helps a great deal.

  • Amber Anyanwu

    God is so good. Today is the birthday of someone that repeatedly hurt me growing up and I struggle so much with residual pain. It often makes me question how well I’m doing at forgiveness. Your honest look at the reality of forgiveness has given me pause this morning. I am going to wrestle through this passage for a while to sort through where I am but I am very appreciative of your words this morning.

  • Mary Cassady

    Thank you! One of the loveliest and most helpful discussions of forgiveness I have ever heard.

  • Kelly Chataine

    I pray that the Holy Spirit would help me know those I have offended because sometimes I don’t know. I pray that I would freely give and seek forgiveness. I want to be a beautiful scent wafting up to Heaven.

  • There may still be a scar, but “I am no longer keeping the wound open in order to prove how much I’ve been hurt.”

    Tired of being a victim. I need to remember this.

  • Jocelyn Hammer

    Thank you.

  • Zainab Saccoh

    Amen!

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