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Forgiveness

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“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” Luke 6:37

The greatest example of forgiveness is shown as Jesus hung on the cross, when He asked the Father to forgive the ones who were crucifying Him.

In the pattern for prayer that He gave His disciples, which we know as “The Lord’s Prayer,” He said we were to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us.  That means that if we do not forgive others, we cannot expect the Lord to forgive us.

When we have been hurt or wrongfully treated, our first reaction is to get back at the person who has mistreated us.  We can think of lots of things we could say or do to make that person feel as badly as we do.  But that is not what the Lord expects of us.  Wouldn’t it be terrible if the Lord treated us in this matter, and punished us for every time we fail Him?

Forgiving someone does not mean that we forget entirely what they have done, or that we let them treat us badly repeatedly.  It simply means that we recognize they are human and make mistakes the same as we do, and that we can forgive them and go on with our life.  Even if they never ask for forgiveness, we can extend it to them.

Forgiveness is for our benefit as well as the one who has wronged us.  If we do not forgive, there is a danger of bitterness growing in our hearts and keeping us from a good relationship with the Lord.  The one who wronged us may go merrily on their way, not realizing how we feel, but we think about it every day and let it destroy us.

As people look at us, do they see a forgiving spirit and know that it is because we love Jesus.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, help me to have a forgiving spirit, no matter what others may do or say.  You have forgiven me so much, and I want my life to be an example to others.

Devotion by Anne Johnston

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25, New King James Version).

A friend is struggling with forgiveness, and I’m not sure how to help her. Yes, I know the problem, but all the words I think of saying seem like I’m just repeating pat answers I’ve heard in the past. So, I’ve pulled out my Bible, started a search, and am trying to find scriptures to help her find a place of peace. Ultimately, the journey will be hers; only she can decide to forgive. Without revealing her circumstances, let’s just say what she has endured in life is what many would determine unforgivable.

Unforgivable?

I suppose the word unforgivable may be the starting point of this search. Is there ever an act so horrendous we are not required to offer forgiveness? My study took me several places: the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:21-35; Stephen’s last words to those stoning him (Acts 7:60); the words of Jesus as He died on the cross (Luke 23:34). As difficult as it may seem, I cannot find a biblical “out” on forgiving. The degree of the offense has no bearing on our need to forgive—even to the point of death.

At first, we may feel justified to refuse forgiveness. After all, we’ve been done wrong. They don’t deserve our forgiveness. They haven’t even asked for our forgiveness—and may never ask. But eventually, “feeling good” about not forgiving may change to bitterness, anger, resentment, and a desire for revenge. When these negative emotions take up residence, peace moves out.

When considering the offenses of another, we need to realize some things. First, forgiveness is not dependent upon asking to be forgiven. Also, forgiveness does not mean we condone their actions. Nor does it mean they will not have to bear the consequences of their actions. It may or may not lead to reconciliation, and we may or may not learn to trust them again.

Who Forgiveness Changes

Forgiveness may never change the one who hurt you, but it will change you. It will release you from the chains of the past and free you to move into the present. You will find healing and peace of mind. We release the offense and the offender to God, for ultimately they are accountable to Him (Romans 12:17-21).

Mark 11:25 begins with the words “whenever you stand praying.” Before we approach God, we need to be clear with our fellowman. We must offer forgiveness to each other to receive forgiveness from Him (Matthew 6:15; Ephesians 4:32). Forgiveness is not an easy journey, but it is one well worth taking. Your well being depends on it.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be forgiving to others even when their actions have caused me disappointment and pain. Take all resentment and bitterness from me and keep me from a desire for revenge for the wrongs done me. You were able to offer forgiveness even when enduring the agony of the cross. Help me to have that same forgiving spirit in my life.

“The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. Then the men asked “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?”

Luke 24:5

I was reading through this portion of scripture a few years ago and had a light-bulb moment. How many times have I searched for life, and healing and forgiveness in all the wrong places?

I would bring all my problems to my friends in hopes that they could give me the miracle I needed or even some encouragement to help me get through my current situation. I would spend my money on frivolous items hoping that the thrill of buying something new would satisfy my need for more. I would try and control the way my life was going only to fail miserably and struggle with having no direction.

We have all done this before, searching for an immediate fix instead of surrendering it all to the ultimate problem solver.

John 14:6 tells us that Jesus is the way, and the truth and the life. Everything I will ever have need of can be found in Him. I will never go without as long as I have a relationship with God. We as Apostolic women need to stop looking for what is living among the dead.

This world has nothing to truly offer us. His mercies are new every morning and what He has for our lives goes beyond what we could ever dream of. Stop looking for a quick fix, and find new life in Jesus today,  He makes all things new!

God, I thank You today for Your perfect plan for my life. You will always lead me on the right path. Guide my steps today and help me to see Your hand at work.