Good-Grace Relationships

Good-Grace Relationships

See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many are defiled.
–Hebrews 12:15

Forgiveness is an important issue. Bitterness is a toxin, a deadly poison that not only destroys us, but it destroys everyone around us. That is why the writer of Hebrews warned in Hebrews 12:15, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many are defiled.”

Sooner or later in your life, somebody is going to hurt you deeply. The most important choice you make in life is whether to trust in Christ as Savior, but perhaps the second most important choice you make in life is what you do when somebody wrongs you. Do you hold on to that offense? Do you continue to turn it over in your mind until that hurt metastasizes into a tumor of bitterness? Or do you choose to let go of that offense? That is what the word “forgive” literally means: to let go off an offense. Outside of receiving God’s forgiveness for our own sins, the most important choice we make in life is whether to forgive those who have wronged us.

How does a proper understanding of God’s grace impact our relationships with those who have wronged us? Does grace require that I unconditionally forgive people who show no remorse for their actions? If I do forgive somebody, does it mean that I continue to suffer abuse from them with no repentance on their behalf? Does grace mean I am required to reconcile with somebody who has hurt me, even if I still do not trust them?

More than two decades ago, I wrote a book titled “When Forgiveness Doesn’t Make Sense.” Today it continues in print because it is an issue that every Christian struggles with. When I set out to write that book, I partnered with the Barna research group, and we conducted a nationwide survey on forgiveness and Americans’ attitudes toward forgiveness.

As you would suspect, we discovered that non-Christians do not have a biblical understanding of forgiveness. But what was surprising to us was that only 25 percent of those who professed to be Bible-believing Christians actually have a biblical understanding of forgiveness. Instead, Christians have bought into popular myths about forgiveness, including the myth that we can only forgive those who ask to be forgiven, or that forgiveness automatically results in the reconciliation of a relationship. Good grace recognizes that forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same thing, and that forgiveness is a requirement for Christians–it is one of the most important choices we can make.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Good-Grace Decision-Making” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org