“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Friend to Friend
I promised myself that I would never buy a house that could be described as a “fixer-upper.” I don’t like fixing things. I want everything to be fixed before I move in. But there I was — buying a town house that needed so much work even the realtor couldn’t believe my husband and I wanted to buy it. Why didn’t someone stop me? No one did, so the sale was made and we went to work. Actually, my son and husband went to work while I went crazy.
I had no idea how horrible the process of remodeling could be. Layer after layer of dirt, grime, stains and ugliness was stripped away. Rotten kitchen cabinets were torn from the walls and rusty appliances were replaced. We basically gutted the whole place and rebuilt it – while living in it. I was not happy!
I will never forget the day I woke up to see a toilet sitting at the foot of our bed. It was at that moment I resolved to never set foot in another house that required so much work. I am so thankful God does not feel that way about me.
Honestly, I used to wonder why God didn’t just demolish the old me and build a new one. Then He did just that – through a two-year battle with clinical depression. While sitting at the bottom of that deep, dark and slimy pit, the Father lovingly stripped away old fears and insecurities. From the walls of my heart, He tore the rotten attitudes, undisciplined thoughts and unholy desires that had walked me to the edge of my pit; then pushed me in. He replaced rusty old dreams with new ones and basically, gutted my life to build a new one, a better one, and a stronger one. Part of that new life was forgiveness. God taught me how to forgive myself so I could then forgive others.
Because forgiveness is so important, it only stands to reason that there are roadblocks that can hinder our willingness to forgive. We must make the commitment to identify and remove each one.
Selfishness shouts, “I have been hurt! It is so unfair. I have rights!” What I am really saying is that how I feel about the hurt is more important than forgiving the hurt.
Pride cries, “Look at what they have done to me. Don’t they realize who I am?” To receive or give forgiveness requires humility.
Some of us have built an entire identity around a hurt. The attention we gain from the wrong we have suffered defines who we are. It is something we cherish and refuse to relinquish for the sake of forgiveness.
We may be blind to the fact that we have not forgiven a hurt. We have convinced ourselves that we really have forgiven the one who hurt us by going through the motions and saying the right words without really dealing with the pain. In reality, all we have done is dig a hole and bury the pain. As long as hurt is buried alive, it will keep resurrecting itself in our life. But when the hurt is dealt with and forgiveness is given, the pain is buried dead – and it stays dead.
Forgiveness is spiritual surgery. It exposes old hurts that have never completely healed. We can move, change jobs, change churches, change friends or even change families, but until we yank up the root of bitterness and cover it with forgiveness, we will live with unresolved pain.
We may not understand the basis of true forgiveness. True forgiveness is a choice – a deliberate choice to release the person who has hurt us from the pain they have caused. We can stop forgiving others when God stops forgiving us.
We need to identify and eliminate the roadblocks to forgiveness so God can set us free, heal our pain and make us more like Him. Now that is a remodeling job I would welcome.
Father, I praise You for the changes You have made in my life through the power of Your forgiveness. Please help me forgive the people who have hurt me just as You have forgiven me.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now it’s Your Turn
None of us deserves forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gift from God. Today is the day to make the choice to forgive. Beside each statement below, write the name of someone in your life who needs your forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not limited to those who deserve it. ______________________________
Forgiveness is not limited to those who apologize. ______________________________
Forgiveness is not limited to those who change. ________________________________
Read and memorize 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
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