If I had a formula for forgiveness, I’d be a very rich woman. It’s something we all struggle with at some time in our lives.
While praying the Lord’s Prayer, it hit me. When I said, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” I thought, Oh no! I need God to forgive me more than I forgive others!
I once made a list of people that I resented, and why. I presented it to God and asked Him to help me forgive. While First Corinthians 13:5 tells us that love keeps no record of wrongs, I clearly had a mental inventory of perceived wrongs against me and mine—complete with details!
I knew that, moving forward, if I didn’t forgive them, I would become sick. Mayo Clinic’s article, “10 Tips for Better Health,” says, “Forgiveness is associated with improved mood and lower stress.” Myriad illnesses are the results of stress. It’s long been said that unforgiveness is like sipping poison and expecting the other person to die. I needed to forgive for my own physical health.
Proverbs 18:14 says, “The human spirit can endure in sickness but a crushed spirit who can bear?” First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I needed to forgive for my own spiritual well being. A full page later, the paper was wet with my tears.
Watching my friend Rev. Jean Clark has helped me forgive others. Her brother and sister-in-law died after being kidnapped, robbed, and buried alive. At the trials of their young murderers, Jean had several opportunities to speak to newspaper reporters and television news crews. Her voice was broadcast far and wide, proclaiming the name of God. Several people gave their hearts to Christ during that time.
When I asked Jean how she forgave such ruthless crimes against her loved ones she told me that forgiveness is a journey, a daily decision. Remembering how much God forgave from her past, she cannot help but forgive others.
While I didn’t kill others physically, I had committed crimes against their hearts and spirits. As vile as I was, God forgave me. As sinful as I am, God continues to exonerate me, when I ask. The Bible tells us repeatedly to forgive others as Christ forgave us. How dare I not?
I prayed over every single person and circumstance I had written down on my list of offenders. Forgiveness didn’t happen overnight, but now I can reflect on those people and not feel angry or bitter. Just like Jean, my awesome example of absolution, said, forgiveness is a journey.
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