Colossians 3:13: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

I came across an interesting statement by Morgan Freeman today:

“Toxic mothers are just as bad as absent fathers, but ya’ll not ready for that discussion yet.”

One of the prime reasons of toxic personalities is unresolved issues germinating below the surface – and lack of forgiveness is one of them.

What happens when we forgive a person? Here is what happens: we address an offense (one at a time) and then we are able to move on. Granted – addressing the offense is hard work and can be very painful. Depending on the gravity of the offense, it may feel very much like reopening an old war wound, which means we’re bleeding all over again. We want to get to the person(s) involved, we want justice. Understandably so! Well, sometimes those people that have offended us can’t be reached. They might be dead or unavailable. Forgiving a person does not depend on the person who offended us. The work of forgiveness is entirely our business. We have to get through this. We have to sort through our feelings. We have to do the house cleaning.

Who wants to live in a dirty house for decades? Nobody! “Well”, you might say, “What about the person responsible for all the mess in the house? That person left me and didn’t come back to pick up the pieces.” As awful as it is to be left behind with a messy situation, here is what I think: Yes, this person violated you and had no right to do so, but after all, this is your realm, your house. You pick up the pieces or pretty soon other offenses will happen to you, and you’ll find yourself in a situation similar to hoarders who can’t enter certain rooms in their house anymore because it’s full of clutter.

It’s not easy to pick up the pieces and let go. However, it’s much more difficult to live in clutter! We may need a third party to go through this situation with us. It’s important to acknowledge that we need help.

God recommends forgiveness because it’s a healthy lifestyle. God wants us to have an uncluttered mind and a heart that remains soft and generous versus hardened and unrelenting. The effects of forgiving a person and the ability to leave things behind is both freeing and healing. And let’s not forget that nobody is perfect. As much as we need to forgive others, others may need to forgive us too.

Matthew 12:31: “‘That is why I tell you that men may be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit cannot be forgiven. A man may say a word against the Son of Man and be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven either in this world or in the world to come!’”

A demon-possessed, blind and mute person was brought to Jesus, and He healed Him. The formerly blind and mute person now spoke and saw to everybody’s amazement. Everyone, except a group of religious leaders! They purposely came up with a different explanation (Matthew 12:24):

“Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, ‘This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.’”

Religious leaders are supposed to know God, and they would fight you tooth and nail if you said otherwise. I personally doubt that Jesus’ contemporaries who critiqued His every move really knew God because their behavior did not advertise His intentions at all. However, the trick is, they say so. Saying we know God on one hand and misinterpreting God’s deeds on the other insults the Holy Spirit, and for such behavior, Jesus says, there is no forgiveness left. Why? Well, here is a surprise: because we think we are right!  God cannot forgive a person who is right. This seems to be the only limit to God’s mercy.

Similar to the situation with a tax collector and a religious leader who both prayed in the temple: the tax collector prayed for forgiveness, while the religious leader didn’t think he needed any forgiveness but essentially congratulated himself in his prayer. Jesus points out that these two prayers have two very different outcomes (Luke 18:14):

[Jesus says] “I tell you, this man went to his home justified [forgiven of the guilt of sin and placed in right standing with God] rather than the other man;”

The only lid we can put on God’s mercy is ourselves. We can be the lid. We have the power to limit God’s mercy by simply stating: “I don’t need it.”

On a different note: do you think we have issues with mercy when we always try to find a reason NOT to forgive? Why do we try so hard to find boundary lines to God’s amazing grace, e.g.: “this is how far God’s mercy goes, surely God can’t forgive that!” Isn’t it interesting that we like to use the term “The sky is the limit” when it comes to success, dreams, and ambitions, but when it comes to God’s mercies we want to put a lid on? The truth is: There is no lid on God’s mercy. His mercies are new every morning according to the prayer of an unnamed person in the book of Lamentations (Lamentations 3:23):

“God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.”

God is all we’ve got. There is a reason why we are born naked and can’t take anything with us when we die. All we really need is God, especially His tender mercies with every waking day!