Is there someone in your life who makes your blood boil? Does the mention of his or her name produce a stabbing pain in your gut? Has this person hurt you beyond what you think you can forgive?
You may have been in the right, and you may be deeply wounded, but refusing to forgive those who have hurt you leads only to personal bondage. The bondage of an unforgiving heart can make you feel powerless, hateful, angry, and bitter. It disconnects you from others.
God has called us to live in peace but it is impossible to cultivate peaceful relationships while harboring resentment for others. Forgiveness sets you free to pursue God's call of peace on your life.
To forgive the unforgivable we must follow Jesus' example. He modeled extraordinary forgiveness when He hung on the cross. In His hour of distress He said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).
If Jesus could forgive the hateful, malignant, and vicious hands that nailed Him to the cross, then we, by His Spirit, should be pray for the power to forgive those who have offended or even wronged us.
Jesus' plea from the cross teaches us that our sins are forgiven through Christ because of the divine will of God. We also see in His death how He forgave those who sent Him to the cross. Instead of seeking revenge, we must forgive as the Lord forgave us (Colossians 3:13).
This is the freedom Jesus secured on the cross-freedom from the wages of sin and the freedom to forgive others. As Galatians 5:1 tells us, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."
Is your life filled with the peace and power of God or is it consumed with hatred, bitterness, and anger? Jesus is prepared to forgive you fully and to empower you to forgive others. You can walk in freedom today.
Excerpted from My Journal, a monthly devotional magazine from Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef.