Saturday, December 16, 2017

To Forgive

September 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles

“…But if you do not forgive,
neither will your Father in heaven
forgive your trespasses.”(Mark 11:26)

Forgive. A powerful word. A hard thing to do, but when one truly forgives, it frees the heart so God can love others through you and others can experience His agape love.

When I first became a Christian, I participated in a Bible Study group that we called Mini Church. One night the lesson was on forgiving those who have hurt you. We were asked to go home and ask God to show us who in our lives we needed to forgive. I thought, wow, that’s not only a powerful word, it is also not easy to do. I sat in my wing back chair, closed my eyes, and reviewed my life. In my mind’s eye, I saw the face of every person who had hurt me and I mentally forgave each one. Or so I thought.

Over the next six years I happily touted to my family and friends that I had forgiven all of the mean words and actions that had been done to me in the past, just like Jesus did when He was on the Cross and said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do”(Luke 23:34). But the Lord was about to show me once again that what is of the mind isn’t necessarily in the heart.

The summer of 2009, I volunteered to have my sister recuperate at my house after having major stomach surgery. Being the loving Christian sister I am, I was prepared to take care of her every need. My family had reservations about the arrangement because of our contentious relationship growing up. We are two years apart in age and, like all siblings, we had numerous physical and verbal fights. But I had forgiven her of all the mean hurtful things she had done to me throughout our life. I assured them it would be fine.

I changed her bandages, gave her injections, made sure she had her medication, broth, and fluffed the pillows so she could get comfortable in the chair or bed. At first, I happily went about the duties because that is what you are supposed to do as a “Christian.” However, after just a few days I found myself resenting every moment. I hated to hear her call my name. I would make heavy sighing noises and my responses to her needs were sharp and mean. The Spirit of God within me began convicting me of the resentment and hate I was feeling toward my sister.

I was asking myself why I was feeling like this; I was not supposed to feel this way. Then, it occurred to me to ask the Lord to show me why. She still had three more weeks of recuperation under my care and I didn’t like what I was feeling. He reminded me of a moment in time while we were yet teenagers on a camping trip, she used words that cut through me like a knife. Those words had been hidden deep within my heart and bubbled up from time to time throughout my life. The Lord showed me that, although I proclaimed my forgiveness with my mouth, I hadn’t forgiven her in my heart.

That night I read in my Bible these words:”And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:25-26). These words stuck out at me. I prayed asking forgiveness of the sins of resentment, hate, and anger, and asked for His love move through me so He could really begin to heal my sister. I truly love my sister and didn’t want to hinder her healing.

The next morning I felt so much lighter. Even the house seemed lighter. When my sister called for assistance, I answered with a true cheerful heart. A big change came over me and you could feel it in the house. My sister began to feel better. I apologized to her for how I was behaving and asked her to forgive me.

The Lord taught me that when we don’t forgive others, we are essentially putting ourselves above Him. If Jesus was able to forgive us for our actions, who are we to not forgive others. To forgive is an action verb; we have to continuously walk in forgiveness. We must both forgive others as we ask for forgiveness from our Heavenly Father so we can experience His agape love that frees our souls.

© JanMarie Bailey
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