Pastor Russ had a great message at church this morning about forgiveness. It's very timely cause in a few days I need to be speaking a bit about forgiveness at the Faith Stories Seminar AWAKEN with Women's Journey of Faith (www.wjof.com). So I gleaned much from the message this morning. I will share some of those thoughts with you.
Forgiveness brings FREEDOM! We may not always believe that....but it does!
Things that happen in our lives at times are unfair, hurtful, undeserving, full of betrayal, abusing and can be extremely painful. We often don't deserve what happens at times and we can become very offended. But what we feel and what we go through is legitimate....our story is legitimate, it is very very real, and it can really really hurt! BUT, now what?? After being betrayed, being abused, being hurt or being offended....none of that can be changed - we can't change the past. SO, now what??
Are we going to choose to fix our attention on what or who has hurt us, on the pain, on the mess that it's caused, on all the why me's and poor me's?? OR are we going to fix our attention on God! We can choose to focus on the offense...but why? WHAT good does it do? Focus on it so it can eat us alive, cause health problems, make us bitter, cause others to dislike us cause we're no fun to be around? Why would we want to do that to ourselves? OR we can allow God to take it, submit it all to Him and use our changed heart and attitude............and live in FREEDOM! Why would we choose to continually live in the slavery of hate, living in that pitiful hurt and wallow in self rather than forgiving it all and living in Freedom? When we take that offense and submit it to God, ONLY and ONLY in THAT is there FREEDOM! This choice to submit it to God or not, that choice changes where we spend our energy.
Oh my friends, don't you see? We can stay stuck in that offense or we can be free! What sounds better to you? Do you want to have health issues? Do you want to be bitter and not better? Do you want to live a life stuck for years and years in bondage? Oh that would be no fun at all! A life becomes so incredibly SAD when years are wasted in bondage and as a result there are health issues and spiritual issues to continually deal with...and so many of them turn into such major issues!
We can choose NOT to hang onto that offense and use ALL that energy on serving and loving a God who loves us. We can allow Him to take that hurtful past, all those bad horrible things, all those offenses - whether they are small or large.....my friend, GOD can take ALL of those things and bring good out of it. Yes those offenses hurt, no they're not fair, yes it's hard.....but oh there is so much more freedom in letting God take care of it all. He can bring good out of it. We CAN be an encouragement to others....in spite of what has happened to us! Forgiveness brings such FREEDOM!
Our choice determines whether we'll walk healthy or with a limp all our life. If we just hunger for revenge and hold onto that grudge and continually remain offended by a person....THAT will hurt US! It's like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die!
If we call ourself a Christian, if we are a believer of Jesus Christ, if we say we love God......then we have NO CHOICE but to forgive! It is IMPOSSIBLE to love God will all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, with all our strength.... while holding onto an offense and keeping a grudge. If we're followers of Jesus Christ, it has GOT to be in our nature to have a forgiving heart!
But we know we can't do it on our own. We need the strength and wisdom of the Lord. Psalm 86:5 says "O Lord you are so good, so ready to forgive, so FULL OF UNFAILING LOVE for all who ask your aid." All we need to do is ask and He is there ready to help us...and He WILL help us to forgive others, we just need to be willing.
So my friend, what ya gonna do?