Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Gift of Forgiveness

Back in the 70s a popular movie called 'Love Story' had a quote:  "Love means never having to say you're sorry".  I like the movie, but I disagree with the quote.  I believe if we have wrong someone then we should be a big enough person to own up to our faults.  I also believe we should forgive those who have wrong us, whether they apologize or not. Now this may be very difficult for me to write because I like to hold on to grudges.  I like to get even with those who have hurt me.  I have learned from experience though that it is much better to leave the revenge to the good Lord.  He will get around to dishing out the punishment, but it is in his timing, not ours.

When we are unable to forgive, it causes us to be bitter.  I believe that an unforgiving heart can actually kill us.  When we carry around grudges, it causes stress upon our bodies.  It can make us physically and mentally ill.  Why?  For one thing, we are going directly against what the Bible instructs us.  In Luke 17:3, 4, we are told to forgive our brother, not just once but 7times in a day! 

Sometimes I have trouble getting a good night's rest.  Often if I will examine my heart, I will find one of two things going on:  either I am living in fear of something, or I am harboring angry.  Both are sins.  Matthew 6:14 says if we forgive then our Heavenly Father will forgive our trespasses.  But the best example about forgiveness that I know comes from Jesus Christ himself.  In Luke 23:34, printed in red, are the words of Jesus praying for those who had crucified him:  "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do".

Forgiveness is hard at times.  It is necessary though if we are ever going to be truly happpy with ourselves.  You don't have to do it for your enemy, but do it for yourself!  I don't think forgiveness should be confused with stupidity.  Don't live with the anger, but learn the lesson.  I don't believe the Lord expects any of us to be floormats. 

Elton John has a song with the lyrics,' Sorry seems to be the hardest word'.  If we are going to love with a Christ-like love, then we are going to have to be able to own up to our wrongs from time to time and say 'sorry'.  Admitting our faults and asking for forgiveness, is not a sign of weakness, but of Godliness.  I have never regretted forgiving another or asking for forgiveness.  Both experiences have always lifted burdens from my heart.  When we humble ourselves in the sight of God, we open up the communication lines between us and the Father.

I think love is saying that you are sorry and love is forgiveness.   Is there someone who you could offer the gift of forgiveness to today?

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