I was prepping the kids worship folder last week and looked at the scripture passage our pastor was using for the message.
This part really caught me:
...and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2
I started thinking about proclaiming forgiveness or telling God we hope to forgive as an offering or sacrifice to God. I believe sometimes we aren't ready to forgive and forgiveness is often a process. The truth is, in some of my deepest wounds, I haven't wanted to explore what it means to forgive or felt the desire to ask God to help me enter into the forgiveness process. I've simply pushed the issues to the recesses of my mind and carried on. This scripture helps me to see forgiveness not as something we do for the offender, not something we do for ourselves (as is often taught), but as something we do for GOD.
Wow… as I'm following and honoring God, I offer forgiveness as a sacrifice.
This is one for me to chew on a bit. I believe God doesn't just want me to say empty words (for that wouldn't be honoring to God or myself) and I believe God doesn't want me to proclaim something that isn't true…so how can I offer forgiveness as a sacrifice even if I don't want to do it? Isn't this a definition of sacrifice? - giving up, doing what we don't want to, laying down when we'd rather hold on, etc. Merriam-Webster defines sacrifice as: an act of offering to a deity something precious. That definition helps me remember the power I have within me to forgive, which comes from the Holy Spirit, is of eternal value. In essence we offer a holy piece of ourselves back to God.
Today I realize that I need to face the journey of forgiveness for one reason (and I'm sure there will be other benefits along the way) - I want to love as Christ loved. I want to sacrifice my WHOLE self to God, and that means not holding back a piece just because, "I'm not ready." So apparently my sacrifice begins now. Sacrifice is painful, beautiful, exhausting, and ultimately fulfilling when done for God. I can trust that process based on prior experience with the Holy Spirit.