“Will you help me control my thinking?” The airport shuttle driver’s question surprised me. He’d obviously overheard my conversation with the woman leaving the shuttle. His landlady, who called herself a Christian, had wronged him. Hurt and anger showed in his eyes and words.
How could I help this man see that to be freed from his pain he needed to forgive the woman who’d caused it?
I’m sure people have disappointed and hurt you too. It’s part of life on planet earth. Maybe that’s why Jesus included forgiveness in the prayer He taught his disciples.
Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matt. 6:12 NLT).
Isn’t it ironic that we must forgive the ones we least want to forgive? This isn’t a cruel joke. It’s protection. Granting forgiveness heals our wounds and frees our souls.
I’ve read articles about forgiveness. Some platitudes offered more harm than good. They painted forgiveness as a magic wand that erased all pain. Hurt feelings don’t necessarily indicate unforgiveness. They may reveal wounds. Surface wounds may be healed in an instant. But deep wounds take time to mend. Forgiveness sets healing in motion.
I want to share principles I’ve learned about forgiveness that I believe will help you. In this series I will explain the facets of forgiveness by spelling F-R-E-E-D-O-M, because forgiveness brings freedom.
Forgiveness Brings FREEDOM
Who benefits when we forgive? We do—as well as those we love.
The F in FREEDOM stands “For you—and those you love.”
To avoid the hard work of forgiving, some say, “Why must I forgive? This is too big to forgive. They don’t deserve to be forgiven.”
They may not deserve to be forgiven. But do you deserve to prolong your suffering by holding on to the sharp barbs of bitterness? Or do those you love deserve to live with your hostility or be shaped by your destructive example?
Others minimize their hurt saying, “It’s no big deal.” These attitudes keep us from the freedom forgiveness brings.
Forgiveness benefits the one who gives it. We forgive for our own sake. We also forgive for the sake of those we love, because bitterness is a poison that can’t be contained.
The person who wronged us may not even be aware of our turmoil—or care. He or she may be dead. But if our resentment lives on, we continue to suffer and present a harmful example for those who look up to us.
Resentment drains the joy out of life and erects a wall between us and God. He hasn’t moved, but we feel distant. Tormented souls snap at small irritations and miss the beauty around them. This causes distance between us and those we love.
Forgiveness frees us from the turmoil and damaging effects of bitterness.Forgiveness frees us from the turmoil and damaging effects of bitterness. #forgiveness Click To Tweet
Christ is our example.
Christ forgives injuries –
- done in ignorance
- done intentionally
- that appear slight
- that cause tremendous harm and pain
Your freedom is at stake. Forgive to free yourself from turmoil. Forgive for the sake of those you love. How many spouses, children, and coworkers suffer because of someone’s unwillingness to forgive?
See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15 NIV).
I explained the benefit of forgiveness with my shuttle driver. When we reached the airport, he handed me my luggage. “I’m going to do what you said,” he smiled. “I am going to be free.”
What about you? Are you ready to be free? Forgiveness brings freedom for the one who forgives. Forgive—For your sake and the sake of all you love—including Jesus.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:40 NIV).
To Forgive: Get Real is the second post in this series.
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