Forgiving – I don’t hold grudges against my friends.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:13
On Easter Sunday, during a time of shared prayer in the worship service, a powerful testimony was given on forgiveness. A woman told the congregation how she and her husband had recently seen the movie I Can Only Imagine, and on their way home from the theater her husband (who had grown up in a house of abuse) sent a simple text to his step-father “I forgive you.”
Not expecting any sort of response, the couple was surprised when a returning text replied “I’m sorry for everything I’ve done.” I don’t think there was a dry eye in the sanctuary as the woman went on to praise the Holy Spirit for using that particular moment for forgiveness to be both given and received.
However, life has shown us that forgiveness and reconciliation don’t always happen instantaneously. Recently I was talking with a friend about forgiveness and she said “I don’t know how the other person will respond but I know for me, it’s extremely freeing to just get those words of forgiveness out there.” The truth is...we don’t always know how the other person will receive the words “Will you forgive me” or “I forgive you” but at the end of the day, should the unknown prevent us from taking the first step?
CALL TO ACTION
How can we cultivate a spirit of forgiveness in ourselves and in our children?
- SAY NO to the GRUDGE – Nothing good ever comes from holding a grudge. The longer we hold onto it, the more settled and comfortable our hearts get with it. And before we know it, we begin to justify the bitterness we feel. The roots of bitterness are relentless when it comes to choking out all that is good and forgiveness is the first step to putting an end to their nasty growth.
- 2 SIDES OF THE SAME COIN – Saying “I’m sorry – do you forgive me” can be extremely humbling – but it’s only a short term pain when you consider the long term gain. This is one of the most valuable lessons you can teach your kids! No one is above apologizing and seeking forgiveness and the best place to model what a heartfelt apology and forgiveness looks and feels like is in the home.
Likewise, uttering a sincere “I forgive you” can be just as hard as apologizing. The temptation is to say forgiveness has been given but yet we secretly hold on to the hard feelings. And guess what? We might think the hard heartedness is being suppressed but in actuality it seeps out of everything we say or do. Eventually, it will have to be dealt with all over again. Take care of it the first time around!
- SEEK SCRIPTURE and SUPPORT– Having a difficult time with forgiveness? Consider the second part of the verse in Colossians as your heavenly prescription for any lingering heart issues. “As the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.” That can be a hard pill to swallow especially when considering the very real hurt and brokenness that many of us have experienced at some point in our lives. The path to healing and pressing on, with forgiveness being one of the milestones, can be found throughout Scripture. Also, consider that wisdom is found in a multitude of counselors! If you are unsure on how to pursue forgiveness, seek support (wisdom) from those you trust at church, work or within a circle of friends.
“Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.”
― Corrie ten Boom