The Freedom of Forgiveness

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

I try to write these posts about what the Lord is showing me at the time. That isn’t always easy as there are times that the Lord just seems quiet. But for this post the Lord seems to be working me in the area of forgiveness. We all know that God forgives our sins and we could quote verses to back that. First John 1:9 and Psalm 103:12 immediately come to my mind. But I would like to talk a little about another aspect of forgiveness that I have been learning about right now. In re:generation, we have been going through a series on forgiveness. But this section is talking, not about how God forgives us our sins, but the necessity for us to forgive others who have sinned against or hurt us in some way. That’s a whole different story.

When we started this section, I had no problem knowing that this was one of my weak areas. I can go back to my childhood, over 60 years ago, and remember things done to me by others that hurt me. I also know that I am good at holding grudges against people. I have actually been working on some of this as it came up in past lessons in re:generation. But this current round has been totally different. I’d like to share a couple of quotes from our workbook that spoke to me recently:

“Without forgiveness, you will never experience the peace, unity or love God intended for relationships. Unforgiveness traps you in a cycle of pain fueled by hurts of the past and fear of the future.”

“Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, it makes you free.” (Stormie Omartian).

Both these quotes along with a reminder from what we commonly call The Lord’s Prayer, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (Matthew 6:12)” really spoke to me this week. This verse seems to assume that we have already forgiven our debtors. Unfortunately, for me and probably for many of us, that is may not always be true.

So, what do I do with this? Well, with the guidance of our workbook, I have been doing a few things that I have found very helpful to me in this area. First and foremost, I prayed for God’s guidance to show me exactly who I needed to forgive. I prayed that I would not hold back and obey whatever God showed me. Second, I reviewed my life and wrote down people who have sinned against me. I was already aware of some of the people, but as I prayed the Lord brought others to mind that I hadn’t even thought of. That wasn’t too exciting for me. I felt rather ashamed that God even revealed more that I had already thought of. The next things, was that I started going through the list and telling God that I forgive them for whatever it was. My workbook suggested that I surrender my “rights” for apologies, paybacks, and bitterness or using this to my advantage (that last one is something I had never thought about. It seemed a little warped to think that I would do such a thing). Anyway, I started doing this for each person naming the specific infraction that I believed happened. I still have more to go through because I postponed dinner to work on this but part way through I noticed I was getting a little shaky. So I decided I better stop and eat something.

I don’t want to overplay this, but I have been experiencing a change in my heart over the last couple of months. By God’s grace, I have been more calm and feeling the peace of God. There is a difference between the peace with God and the peace of God. Romans 5:1 says, we have all experienced peace with God because of our justification through Christ. But the peace of God comes through a life of trusting Him, prayer, thanksgiving, and surrender to His will (see Philippians 4:6-7). It is difficult to experience this peace if you are holding things against your brothers and sisters.

Dear friends, I would encourage us to think about these things. Some harms done to us by others who we are supposed to be able to trust are difficult to get over. But we need to forgive them. In all honesty, when we don’t forgive them, we still have our hurts and bitterness while the offender has most likely gone on with their life and not bothered by it at all. But I would encourage us to forgive and leave any justice or vengeance to God. He will take care of it in His time and in His way.

In closing I pray, if you are like me and hold on to hurts, that you take time to pray and think about these things. Give it up. Holding on to past hurts is just not worth it and it holds us back from growing in the Lord. For those of you who read this post, I thank you and pray you will find it helpful to you in your walk with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Be at Peace!!

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