Forgiveness needs to be exercised and managed. What does this look like?
It doesn’t mean forgiving in advance for the next twenty years. That’s impossible. Believe me; I’ve tried it. Rather, managing forgiveness means waking up and saying, “Just for today I choose forgiveness.” Tomorrow you do the same thing. “Just for today…” That’s what it looks like. I like how the little girl misread the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trash baskets, as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.” She was on to something. We make the choice to forgive each other’s trash, just for today.
One time, I was in a restaurant and saw someone who had hurt me badly. To move in the opposite spirit of the pain that welled up in me, I secretly paid that person’s bill. God will deal with the person for what he or she did. Last time I checked, revenge belonged to the Lord, not to Penny Maxwell or any other person.
I’ve noticed that when other people mess up, we call on God’s justice, but when we mess up, we’re a big fan of His mercy. I can’t remember one time when I messed up and went to the Lord and said, “I blew it, Lord. Would You pour hot coals on my head? Would You remove Your blessings from me? Please make me pay for everything I’ve done.” I don’t do that regarding my sin, but I do for others’. We judge ourselves by our intentions and other people by their actions. Our standard should be uniform all the way around.
I’ve also proven personally that we can’t store up grace.
When I was getting ready to have my second child, I thought, “How am I going to do this? I already have one child. How can I possibly do everything that needs to be done in a day?”
God told me, “You’re wanting to store up grace, but you can’t do that.” He reminded me of the Israelites gathering manna. They didn’t understand how God worked. He wanted to teach them a principle by having them wake up every day and come look for His provision—and for Him. They wanted to keep trusting and relying on their own strength, which took them into fear and greed, and they went out to gather more than they needed for that day. It never worked—the extra manna became full of worms after one day (or two days when it was the Sabbath).
Why wouldn’t God let them gather for weeks in advance? It was a principle: every day we have to choose God again. Every day we come to Him for provision, for relationship, or for whatever we need. So many of us want to plot our path through the pain. God wants us to wake up every day and trust Him for that day. Tomorrow you do the same thing. The day after do the same thing. His mercies are new every morning. The Bible says that today is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2), meaning we should live in the now. Jesus said each day has enough trouble of its own, so don’t worry about tomorrow (Matt. 6:34). It’s a process of learning to lean on God, a mental pattern and a lifestyle we must develop.
Penny Maxwell tells her story this Tuesday on LIFE TODAY. This is an excerpt from Setting Broken Bones by Penny Maxwell. Copyright 2021 by Penny Maxwell. Published by Charisma House, an imprint of Charisma Media. Used by permission.