By Joan Clayton
During a misunderstanding with a fellow worker, I spoke in haste, my voice rising. Immediately my conscience convicted me and I felt remorse as I walked away. In shame and embarrassment, I hurried back to her.
“Please forgive me,” I pleaded through my tears.
“I forgive you.”
Thankful for her forgiveness, I retreated to my office, but I couldn’t shake what I had done. How could I have done that? I asked myself. What kind of person am I? Dear Lord, I am so sorry I talked to her like that.
I punished myself the rest of the week. Then on Sunday morning, the pastor’s words took me into reality: “Not only must we ask forgiveness; we must accept forgiveness ourselves. We are all sinners saved by grace.”
My friend had forgiven me, and God had forgiven me. “Now I forgive me too.” Confessing my sin and making a new start gave me determination to speak softly and turn away wrath the next time I have a misunderstanding. (Proverbs 15:1) Knowing that God forgives me and “will remember my sins no more,” (Jeremiah 31:4) enables me to forgive myself and move on.
Learning to forgive others as well as ourselves removes inner turmoil. True forgiveness does not keep bringing up the offense and reliving in the past about it. What is gone is just that…GONE! Every time the offense or hurt is rehearsed, it is as if the same ordeal is happening again for the first time. The accompanying emotions leave the body in a weakened distressed state.
Unforgiveness allows the enemy of our soul to gain a legal entry into our lives to do his evil work. He wrecks havoc on bodies and relationships. The one who will not forgive is like a person behind bars, causing physical maladies with antagonizing, destructive thoughts. The whole scene is played over and over like a broken record. Yesterday, today and tomorrow are all marred because of an injustice dealt. Yes, you were hurt, and yes the wound is justified, but is it worth controlling and consuming your outlook on life?
When we forgive, we are released out of the tormenting bondage of unruly emotions that enslave us. Forgiveness means we truly want that person’s highest good, no matter how deeply the person has wounded you. Where there is no forgiveness there is no future for a relationship but forgiving brings peace and the ability to walk in harmony again.
If you are having a problem with unforgiveness today, ask the Lord to help you. Tell him you are willing to be made willing to forgive.
A story is told in Matthew 18:23-36 about a master who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. One servant owed him ten thousand talents (an exorbitant amount) and could not pay. The master ordered his wife and children to be sold to repay the debt. The servant fell on his knees and begged the master to be patient and vowed to pay back everything. The master took pity on him, canceled his debt and let him go. Then the servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denari (a very small amount”). He grabbed him and choked him, demanding payment. The fellow servant begged him to be patient and vowed to pay him. The servant refused and had the man thrown into prison. The master called the servant in and said, “You wicked servant! Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” The master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured until he paid back all he owed.
The lesson to be learned here is that God forgives us. Can we do no less in our relationships with others?
Forgiveness disarms the enemy!