Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Part of forgiveness is releasing the person from the debt we think they owe us. Sometimes the best thing to do is simply let something go 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 – a lesson I am continually learning to apply in my life.
Dan and I decided it was time to sell one of our old junky cars. A man who worked for the church where Dan pastored agreed to buy it. He and Dan worked out the terms – none of which the man kept. When Dan said he had decided to forgive the debt and just let the man have the car. I was not happy.
(If you missed my last devotion, take a few minutes to go back and read it.)
A few weeks later, the man quit his job at the church and went to work for a nearby grocery store – my grocery store. I soon learned that God has a sense of humor because almost every time I went to the store, the man was there. And every time I saw him, anger consumed my heart. I finally realized that this whole car situation was robbing my life of joy – until the day I joined my husband in his decision to give the man the car. It was the only thing I could do if I wanted peace.
I created a mental scene of driving to the grocery store, handing the car keys to the man and saying, “Merry Christmas! Enjoy your new car.” It wasn’t Christmas, and the car was far from new, but the plan worked. I forgave the debt in my heart and let it go.
The most amazing thing happened! I was the one set free. From that day on, every time I saw the man, I waved and smiled. He began avoiding me, unable to look me in the eyes.
God does have a sense of humor. A few weeks later, I saw the man driving a different car and learned from one of his co-workers that “his old car just up and died.” Enough said.
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. As I wrestled with the choice to forgive, I learned several life-changing truths:
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, who 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 of reconciliation. If someone has sinned against you, forgive that person and seek restoration in that relationship.
More from the Girlfriends
One of the most powerful illustrations of God’s love and forgiveness is found in the lives of Hosea and Gomer. Hear their story in Mary’s MP3 download … Love That Never Fails.