FORGIVE OR FORGET IT!
David W. Dillon
Superintendent, Appalachian District
Is there someone who has wronged you so badly that their misdeed is constantly on your mind? Years may have passed but they have not diminished the feelings of unforgiveness towards that person. If anything, the offense seems even greater today than it did when it occurred. How so? Because time has a way of amplifying and exaggerating the memory of such things left unreconciled.
Unforgiveness is a prison that incarcerates its keeper. As Mark Batterson says in his book Wild Goose Chase, “What so many fail to realize is that their unforgiveness doesn’t hurt the person who hurt them; it simply compounds the pain in their own heart. We think our unforgiveness will somehow cage the person who hurt us, but it only cages us.”
“But they don’t deserve to be forgiven after what they did to me!” That may be true, but that doesn’t seem to matter to God. In Matthew 6:15, Jesus said, “If you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Wow! That’s heavy. How can we possibly forgive someone who has hurt us deeply? Maybe even scarred us physically and emotionally?
The only way we can forgive is in the same way we have been forgiven. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to forgive one another just as (in the same manner) God forgave us through Christ. Honestly, did we deserve to be forgiven of our rebellion against God, of our rejection of Him? Did we deserve for Jesus to take our place on the cross, to bear our sin (acts of disobedience) when He had no wrongdoing to be punished for? No way! God forgave us because of grace, or undeserved favor.
Okay, so maybe the person who wronged you doesn’t deserve to be forgiven. Maybe they refuse to even acknowledge what they have done. Or maybe it’s not even possible for you to communicate with them. God says forgive them anyhow! Doing so will set you free from bondage and enable you to move forward in His plans and purposes for your life. But more importantly it will ensure forgiveness for the wrongs you have done. “If you forgive the failures (sins) of others, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matt. 6:14, GW).
Forgive or forget it!
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