Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
(Colossians 3:13, NIV)
Friend to Friend
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. When I opened my mailbox to find the loan papers for my car, I danced a jig. Stamped in big red letters across the document were the words, “Paid in full.”
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. Sometimes the best thing to do is to simply let something go and cut our losses instead of allowing the weight of an unpaid debt to deplete our mental and emotional energy. In other words, we can forgive the debt and free ourselves.
We decided it was time to sell one of our old junky cars. We had several from which to choose but this particular one was old, ugly and needed work. In the right hands, it might last a few more years. A man who worked for the church said he could fix the car and agreed to buy it. He and Dan worked out the terms. The man was to pay a certain amount each month until the car was paid for. No papers were signed because, after all, it was a business agreement between two ministers. Some lessons are learned the hard way. Dan gave him the car title and car keys. He gave us nothing. Not one penny.
Dan talked with the man several times. He always responded with the promise that he would make a payment soon. “Soon” never came. I was furious. I ranted and fumed for several days until Dan said, “Honey, I have decided to forgive the debt on that old car.” Well, I decided not to, and my anger grew.
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 decided to give him the car. It was the only thing I could do if I wanted peace.
I created a mental scene of my driving to the grocery store, handing the car keys to the man and saying, “Merry Christmas! Enjoy your new car.” Now 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. Remember I told you that God has 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.
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. 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. 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 them 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?
- to forgive yourself indicate about your understanding of true forgiveness?
- Celebrate right now the power of forgiveness in your life.
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. Be sure to connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.