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Forgive Us Our Trespasses

Field day was the best day of the year. We got out of class to play outdoors. One of my favorite activities was tug of war since it made me feel a lot stronger than I was. Honestly, my arms are zero percent muscle.

One year, we got into place and started out with power. The knot of the rope was steadily budging to our side when I fell, and my leg got caught under it. My ankle experienced the wrath of the great war between the two teams shifting the rope each way. Just as the opposing team broke into victorious cries, they let go, and the rope furiously ran across my skin towards their outburst of triumph.

Jesus teaches us to start our prayers by remembering we belong to God’s family—the family that God has rescued and is gathering together from all nations.

I yelled out and looked up at my team in defeat. As I lifted myself from the grass, my friend asked if I was okay to which I answered with a negative. Immediately, he called the nurse over, and she came running. I was confused, so I told them I was fine and explained that my concern was for our loss . . . not my ankle.

The pain was the least of my worries until I saw the look of disbelief on their faces. To assure them, I grabbed my ankle and looked at it. I winced in pain and saw deep white tissue exposed. The rope hadn’t caused blood, but a blistering white battle wound. I frantically started crying and screaming for help.

Sometimes we don’t feel hurt until we get the courage to look at our wounds. Occasionally, this delayed sense of hurt can reference physical pain, but most often it’s the truth speaking into emotional or spiritual pain. When we courageously acknowledge our hurt, we’re forced to ask for help, which is why forgiveness carries weight.

The Courage to Look at Our Wounds

The power of forgiveness triumphs over pride, jealousy, and death itself, but if we never acknowledge the need for it, then we’ll never engage it. Often, our minds are too distracted with who won the tug of war to look down at our wounds. Our hearts grieve the loss of our victories and ignore the grave repercussions of the battle. Will we continue to ignore hurt for the sake of ourselves? Or can we get to a place where we humbly cry out for help before the mess of scabs and scarring?

“But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes, we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5

Forgiveness circumvents the untreated mess of unspoken hurt, which is known to spread rapidly across our lives and infect our peace, joy, and love. Forgiveness cleanses us, renews us, and sends us out stronger than before. More than that, it ushers in the reason for Jesus—the gospel.

Jesus gave his life so that he may enter into ours. The beating, mocking, and even death that he endured was for our freedom. If he had chosen to bypass the brutality of the cross, we wouldn’t have freedom in Christ. The empty grave glorifies his supernatural victory over death, but this victory is not victorious without the pain, hurt, and suffering. Although we did nothing to deserve freedom, his generosity is an indication that the Spirit works on our behalf to reconcile, redeem, and restore.

“Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” – Colossians 3:13

His courage to forgive made way for reconciliation. Jesus had wounds that remind us of our own, which instills in us a reason to look at him as we hurt, suffer, and heal. If God has forgiven mankind, then how much more can we forgive one another?

Spirit-empowered Forgiveness

Forgiving others requires courage because we must look down to inspect the wounds inflicted upon us, and even harder, the wounds we inflict upon others. But this kind of inspection is also good news. Christ provided more than just the command to forgive; he provided his own Spirit that empowers us to forgive.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” – Romans 8:1-2.

Wounds are tender, and they have to be treated with care. When I was a young girl playing tug of war, I felt more pain when I grabbed my leg in arrogance. I had to dig my fingers into the fleshy burn and see it with my own eyes, instead of just accepting that I was hurt and in need of help. We must examine our hurt as well.

We try so hard to prove that we’re invincible, that our hurt isn’t worth our time, and that the wounds will heal themselves. If we never care for our wounds, then they won’t heal. Acknowledging our need for forgiveness empowers our hearts to generously give and receive forgiveness. God has been showing me my need to do this and the freedom that’s found in doing so.

Hoping for Forgiveness

My hope for you is:

  • I hope you will have renewed gratitude for Christ’s forgiveness.
  • I hope you will approach your own hurt and forgive the people who have caused it.
  • I hope you will humbly seek forgiveness from (at least) one person that you have hurt.

Life has its battles, and we can’t escape that harsh reality. However, we can be more conscious of what they do to us. Jesus fought for forgiveness, let’s humbly follow him.

“Christ performs the office of a priest by once offering himself as a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and to reconcile us to God, and by making continual intercession for us before God.” – John Piper

Chelsea Vaughn (@chelsea725) has served a ministry she helped start in the DFW Metroplex since she graduated from college. She received her undergraduate degree at Dallas Baptist University in Communication Theory. She does freelance writing, editing, and speaking for various organizations and non-profits. She hopes to spend her life using her gift for communication to reach culture and communities with the love of Jesus.