Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Friend to Friend
Do you remember the last words of Jesus as He hung on the cross? “It is finished!” The most literal translation would be “paid in full.”
I will never forget paying off my very first car loan. After sending in my forty-eighth and final payment, I celebrated the fact that I finally owned my bright blue and ever-so-compact Chevrolet Vega – from bumper to bumper. There were those who said you couldn’t drive a Vega – you had to wear it. Others described the bright color as strangely “unique.” But to me, it was the most beautiful car in the world because it was mine.
I quickly found other places to spend the once allocated car payment and went on with life – until the day I opened my mailbox to find the loan papers for my car. Stamped in big red letters across the document were the words, “Paid in full.” I danced a jig right there in my driveway because I was finally free of that debt.
Part of forgiveness is releasing the person from the debt we think they owe us. Refusing to let go of the hurt and pain someone has caused in our lives will always rob us of our joy.
We can choose to release our pain and cut our losses, instead of allowing the weight of an unpaid debt deplete our mental and emotional energy. In other words, we can forgive the debt and free ourselves.
Forgiving the debt is a deliberate choice that is made by an act of your will. You may not feel forgiving. It doesn’t matter. Just do it, and many times the feelings will follow that choice – other times they won’t. Feelings are irrelevant, but obedience is crucial. Do not base the validity of what you are doing on how you feel. Make the choice to forgive … and then obey.
Someone once said: “We put our resentments in cold storage and then pull the switch to let them thaw out again. Our grudges are taken out to the lake of prayer to drown them, and we end up giving them a swimming lesson. How often have we torn up the canceled note, but hang on to the wastebasket that holds the pieces? This is not to say that human forgiveness does not occur; only that it is rare and that much that passes for forgiveness is often not so at all.”
God is the One who heals painful memories. Forgiveness puts us in the correct posture for Him to do so in our lives. Over the years, I have learned several life-changing truths about forgiveness:
If we make the choice to forgive, God will supply the forgiveness.
There should be no limit to our forgiveness because there is no limit to His.
Forgiveness is not a feeling or an emotion. Forgiveness is a deliberate choice.
Forgiveness is our greatest need and God’s greatest gift.
While we cannot change the past, we can change our response to the past and dictate the power it has over us.
If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent a scientist.
But because our greatest need was and is forgiveness, God sent a Savior.
Jesus Christ is calling us all to a higher place, a place of forgiveness. The choice is ours to make. Today, we can choose freedom by choosing to forgive.
Father, I praise You for the love and forgiveness You so freely offer. I don’t understand how You can love me when I am so unworthy of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. To think that He died for me rocks my world. Please give me the wisdom and strength to forgive those who have hurt me. I want my life to be a living illustration of Your unconditional love and unending forgiveness.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Make a list of the sins in your life that need the forgiveness of God. Ask God to forgive you for each one. If you have sinned against someone else, take the first step toward reconciliation. If someone has sinned against you, choose forgiveness over revenge, and go to them in love, seeking restoration.
Consider the following questions and record your answers in your journal.
- What are the rewards of forgiveness?
- What are the barriers to forgiveness in your heart?
- What are the things for which you cannot forgive yourself?
- What does refusing to forgive yourself indicate about your understanding of true forgiveness?
- Celebrate right now the power of forgiveness in your life.
More from the Girlfriends
Need help choosing to forgive that person who hurt you? Mary’s CD, The Power of Forgiveness, is the message of God’s power to forgive and God’s plan for unleashing that power in our lives.