There are many articles on the subject of forgiveness. The focus of this article is specifically how God is faithful to use forgiveness in the disciple maker.
Nathan is one of my closest friends and someone I had the privilege of personally discipling. He shared an illustration with me about forgiveness years ago, and I doubt I will ever forget it…
Imagine holding your heart in your hands. You hear God say, “Share your heart with others.” Innocently, you stretch out your heart and offer it to another in love. Without warning, they suddenly jab your heart with a stick! Surprised and in pain, you quickly withdraw your heart and tend to its wounds. You address the bleeding and try to console the pain. Before the pain has fully subsided, you hear God’s voice again, “Share your heart with others.”
What happens when a disciple maker embraces forgiveness despite their wounds?
When you walk in forgiveness and offer your heart again…
- You will put the Gospel on display.
Speaking of His own crucifixion, Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all people to myself.” None of us have ever suffered wounds like Jesus. Jesus set the tone for forgiveness with the greatest display of love and grace the world has ever seen.
When we follow King Jesus and forgive like He forgives, we put the Gospel on display in a way that is attractive and compelling. The Gospel without forgiveness is no Gospel at all.
- You will cultivate a culture of transparency.
No one wants to be transparent with someone who is known for holding grudges. Unforgiveness, or even slow forgiveness, cultivates fear and creates a culture where people keep their sins a secret. When you are quick to forgive, those you lead will begin to trust that they can be vulnerable with you.
- You will give others permission to practice and to fail.
As disciple makers, we want to see everyone get out of their seats and into the game. This can be terribly frightening for people who have sat in comfortable seats for years. These people need to know that they can make a mistake and still be loved and accepted by us and by our team. Let them watch as you and your team are quick to fight for relationship and choose to forgive.
- You will have meaningful relationships that last.
I do not have any meaningful relationships in my life that haven’t survived conflict. Conflict is an inevitable part of meaningful relationships; and this includes discipleship relationships. When you walk in forgiveness, and when you lead others to do the same, your relationships will find the power they need to weather the storms and come out stronger. As the disciple maker, you must pave this path. Be quick to forgive others when they sin against you and be quick to seek forgiveness when you are wrong.
Forgiveness is not just something we do; it comes out of who we are. You cannot manufacture forgiveness. Ask yourself, “Would those closest to me say I practice forgiveness, or do they see me as a person who thinks I’m always right or holds a grudge?”
Brandon Werner- Executive Pastor
Oklahoma City, OK