Christmas is the special time of year we remember and celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is a celebration of love, the great love God demonstrated for humanity in sending Christ to the earth. It’s also an opportunity to give gifts to the people in our lives. But what can you give to people this Christmas that’s a step beyond the physical gifts we usually go for? Apart from tangible gifts, you can also give people the gift of forgiveness – whether they deserve it or not.
Here’s seven types of people we can all give the gift of forgiveness to this Christmas:
#1. Forgive yourself
Once we realize that God has forgiven all our sins, there is no reason we should not forgive ourselves as well. In fact, choosing to linger in guilt and shame shows that we have not fully received God’s forgiveness. It’s a form of false pride that wants to keep us from moving forward in the freedom that Christ died to give us. In order to live in complete liberation as God desires for us, we must forgive ourselves. In fact, Paul teaches us not to even judge ourselves (1 Corinthians 4:3). We judge and condemn ourselves as an act of pride to show that we know better when, the truth is, God doesn’t even condemn us. Instead, He asks us to use our past failings as a chance to rise into greater sanctification in Him.
#2. Forgive your family
There is something common about all our family members: just like us, they’re not perfect. They might have hurt us or made choices that don’t line up with our beliefs, but holding these things inside us is toxic to ourselves and our relationships.
Family is family, so even if you think they don’t deserve it, forgive them still. It is good for both your health and personal happiness. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean we have to open ourselves back up to them if they haven’t proven themselves trustworthy. Forgiveness heals our own hearts so we can move forward without being entangled by what a loved one did to hurt us.
#3. Forgive your friends
One of the beauties of life is being able to forge beautiful friendships and alliances. But sometimes, these relationships do not go the way we want them to go. When friends make choices that hurt us or that we don’t agree with, what should we do?
Once again, we forgive.
Related Post: How to Receive Forgiveness from God
Let this special season be a good time to remember a friend you are harboring unforgiveness towards, and take the time to forgive them without further reservations. You will be happier and freer for it. Once again, this doesn’t mean you have to let toxic people back into your life, but forgiveness allows you to move forward with your life freed up from the entanglements of the past. Forgiveness paves the way for us to live our lives in the freedom Christ died to give us, so whether the relationship can be mended or not, forgive your friends this Christmas.
#4. Forgive your enemies
Do your enemies deserve your forgiveness? We all may want to say, “no,” but that does not mean that they don’t deserve the gift of forgiveness.
A gift is “a thing given willingly to someone without payment.” A gift inherently is undeserved. This season, let forgiveness be one of the gifts you will give to your enemies – if you have one.
Forgiving our enemies does not mean we are weak or helpless before them. In fact, it proves we are strong. Forgiving our enemies releases their grasp on our lives. Even if an enemy is no longer hurting us, unforgiveness leaves us in their grip. It is only when we forgive that we truly regain our power.
Forgive, and set yourself free. Refusing to show forgiveness is a weight we need not stand under. Escape to safety. You will be healthier and happier when you forgive.
#5. Forgive your boss
Let’s face it: not very many people like their bosses. If you don’t like your boss that much, you are not alone.
If you look for a reason to hate your boss, you will find one:
“My boss is a cattle-driver who never cares how I feel.”
“My boss failed to give me the salary raise or promotion he promised.”
“My boss mocked my accent and my mother”
“Too much work, too little pay.”
We all have a myriad of reasons to feel that our bosses have offended us. But, just like family and friends, our bosses could use the gift of forgiveness this year, too. Even if you think he or she doesn’t deserve it, think of it as a special gift to give him or her this Christmas.
When we forgive our bosses and others in leadership over us, we will begin to feel liberated. Unforgiveness makes the hand of a leader feel heavy, but when we forgive, we begin to recognize how free we are in Christ. Nothing that anyone does, not even our bosses, can keep us from experience fullness of life in Jesus.
#6. Forgive your pastor
If you are like me, you must have heard some people say such things as “My pastor has offended me,” “My pastor does not visit me at home,” “My pastor did not give me money when I asked him,” “My pastor did this or that…”
If you have had any good reason to think that your pastor has offended you, find another reason to forgive him. Forgiving our pastors doesn’t mean we are required to remain in his or her church if we feel the wrong done warrants us to find a new church home under different leadership. But either way, forgiving our pastors will give us greater freedom. Pastors are people too, and they could use the gift of our forgiveness as much as we could all use the forgiveness of others.
#7. Forgive your…
The list of people to forgive could be endless. Your neighbor, your coworker, your doctor, teacher, etc. I have left this item open for you to fill in the gap.
It doesn’t matter if the person you need to forgive has apologized to you or not or whether you think they deserve forgiveness or not. Forgiveness is the greatest gift we could all give someone this season, and Jesus encourages us to forgive without limits or conditions (Matthew 18:21-22).
In the end, we are giving a gift none of us deserve. But that’s the best part of all. God has already given us this precious gift. When we extend it to others, we get to share a piece of the love God so graciously pours on us.
In the end, extending forgiveness is a gift that returns to us in full. Though we give forgiveness to others, we are the ones that reap the reward. A gift of forgiveness given to others is ultimately a gift of freedom given to ourselves, a precious treasure designed by God to bring us fullness of life.