God has been laying the topic of forgiveness on my heart for a few weeks, and I just wanted to share some of my thoughts with you today...so apologies in advance if the following is a bit scattered. In the mornings, Daniel and I are reading Charles Stanley's book Pathways to His Presence.
It is a great daily devotional that has a Bible verse and a one page reading for every day of the year. Each month has a theme. February's theme (as you may be able to guess) is Forgiveness.
Forgiveness is something that I often struggle with. Actually it is unforgiveness that is an on going struggle for me. You see, for me, unforgiveness is easy to hide. It is easy to smile and be pleasant, but underneath that smile is a bitterness and resentment...
The reading yesterday really hit home for me.
Stanley wrote that "an unforgiving spirit is like an insidious cancer that eats away at a person until it has a devastating impact....the cancer of unforgiveness often steals a person's joy for years."
To anyone reading this ~ It is so true!
Unforgiveness steals joy with the snap of a finger. I lie to myself and say that I have a right to be angry, or that I have a right to complain to others about a time when someone wronged me. I was wronged after all, I deserve to tell other people and have them sympathize with me. I lie to myself and say that I will forgive when I get an apology, or when enough time has passes...
But that is not the way God wants me to live.
Every pain I have felt, Jesus has felt it.
Every sin that I have committed, God has forgiven.
He doesn't say to me "Well, if you are really sorry, and don't do it again, then I will forgive you."
NO! He says
Stanley went on to outline 4 "R"s of the healing process of forgiveness.
I must assume responsibility for my unforgiving spirit and ask forgiveness for my unforgiveness. Then I have to forgive. Not just think it, or say I will do it. I have to really, truly forgive.
No longer should I hold over anyone the debt I feel they owe me. No waiting for apologies, no mulling over things that have happened in the past. They do not owe me anything, because I forgave them.
The acknowledgment that someone wronged me exposes weaknesses in my life. My resentment, hostility, and bitterness are areas that God wants to transform in me. To whittle them away from the person I am, to turn me into a person more like Jesus.
When ever I feel myself slipping back into unforgiveness, I remember how often God forgives me. I remember how many times I have had to ask His forgiveness (um, a lot!). And how many times He said No (zero times!)
If Jesus can forgive the Roman soldiers even as they led Him to be crucified, with His help, I will be able to break the bonds of unforgiveness and give all that bitterness and resentment to God.
Lord, your forgiveness has set me free!