­­­­Living on Purpose: Making the choice to forgive

By Bill Holland

How much grace does it take to love someone who has hurt us or offended us? Well, that’s a good question.
Tragedies happen all around us and we notice how others respond, but how do we react when someone does something to us personally and our family is harmed?
I admit that I do not always have the character of Christ when I’m being threatened and many times, my instinct is to retaliate because that’s embedded within our human nature.
I agree that people need to be punished for their evil deeds and acts of violence but we must resist the temptation to embrace hatred and resentment. Life is filled with challenges and situations that attempt to lure us into bad attitudes but for the serious Christian, it’s the forgiveness of Christ that can lead us into the peace that passes all understanding.
When we fall into a negative mindset, our joy (which is our spiritual strength), evaporates and we become weak and discouraged.
Anger and the desire for revenge can emotionally, mentally, and spiritually hold us in the bondage of misery. If we allow ourselves to become weighed down with animosity, our relationship with God suffers which is why it’s so important to not allow hatred to be a part of our life.
We may be able to hide our feelings from those around us, but we cannot hide from God.
For many, there is a war within the conscience where God is saying to let it go while the enemy wants us to stand strong and justify our hatred.
Sadly, many would rather live in the agony of being held hostage, instead of submitting to God and allowing Him to execute justice His way. Joyce Meyer is quoted as saying, “Forgiveness is not a feeling but rather a decision we make because we want to do what’s right before God.”
If you watch a toddler, you will notice they react to the basic instincts of hunger, affection, disappointment, happiness and anger but have not yet learned the dangers of being offended. Resentment is one of many attitudes we naturally develop as we grow older and it’s only through inviting Christ to become our Lord and allowing His Word to transform our mind that we can be molded into His way of merciful thinking.
God wants us to be open and honest with Him and not suppress these ugly imaginations which can damage our personal relationship with Him. The opportunity to call on Christ is always available as Psalm 46:1 declares, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Holding on to these negative attitudes becomes like a growing infection that can also desensitize us from having sympathy and compassion for others. This is a very serious problem because it involves our most precious asset – our love. May we remember that whatever someone has done to us, we can choose to live in the contentment of God’s forgiveness.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” — Matthew 6:14-15.
I was called to pray for an elderly gentleman the other day who was near death. He was barely able to understand or communicate because of the heavy doses of morphine.
His son was sitting next to the bed and after a while he started to talk about his dad. They were not close, and he began to describe a man that seemed to be a decent person on the outside, but had a secret closet of sin and darkness that had caused much damage and ruined his life.
He became emotional and described a tragic story of a disappointed and wounded family. The son was a Christian and had been dealing with resentment against his father for years and as he continued to share about how he finally made the choice to forgive, I could sense the love and peace of God in his countenance.
This type of heart-rending agony is truly a heavy burden, but if we sincerely ask Christ to step into our situation, He is the only one who can bring inner healing to our mind and soul.
Some may say they cannot forgive but the Bible reminds us in Philippians 4:13 that “I can do ALL things through Christ which strengthens me.”

Author: Stephan Drew

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