September 2, 2014
But I Don’t Feel Like Forgiving
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins (Mark 11:25, NIV).
Friend to Friend
Do you remember the last words of Jesus as He hung on the cross? “It is finished!” The most literal translation would be “paid in full.”
Have you ever paid off a loan? I will never forget paying off my very first car loan. After sending in my forty-eighth and final payment, I celebrated the fact that I finally owned my bright blue and ever-so-compact Chevy Vega from bumper to bumper. There were those who said you couldn’t drive a Vega – you had to wear it. Others described the bright color as “unique.” But to me, it was the most beautiful car in the world, because it was all mine. I celebrated all over again when I received the loan papers. Stamped in big, red letters across the document were those beautiful words, “Paid in full.” Forgiveness is like that – beautiful!
Part of forgiveness is releasing the person from the debt we think is owed. Sometimes the highest thing we can do is let something go and cut our losses instead of allowing the weight of an unpaid debt deplete mental and emotional energy. In other words, we can forgive the debt - and set ourselves free.
Several years ago, we decided to sell one of our cars. It was old, rusty, ugly, and needed a lot of work. But in the right hands, it could last for several years. A man who worked for the church bought it. He and Dan worked out the terms. The man agreed to make monthly payments. No papers were signed because, after all, it was a business agreement between two ministers.
Some lessons are learned the hard way.
Dan gave the man the title and car keys.
He gave us nothing.
Not one penny.
Dan talked with him several times. The man always promised that he would make a payment soon. “Soon” never came. I was furious – not so much because of the money, although it would have come in handy, but because this man was taking advantage of my husband’s generosity, and royally ticking me off in the process.
I ranted and fumed. Dan did not. In fact, he said, “Honey, I have decided to forgive the debt on that old car.” I decided not to. And my anger grew.
A few weeks later, the man quit his job at the church, and went to work for a nearby grocery store – my grocery store. Almost every time I went grocery shopping, he was there. And every time I saw him, anger consumed my heart. I finally realized that this whole car situation was killing my joy – until the day I decided to give him the car. It was the only thing I could do if I wanted peace.
I created a mental scene of driving to the grocery store, handing him the car keys, and saying, “Merry Christmas! Enjoy your new car.” Now it wasn’t Christmas, and the car was far from new, but it worked. I forgave the debt, and let it go.
The most amazing thing happened. I was the one set free. Every time I saw the man, I waved and smiled. He began avoiding me. A few weeks later, I saw the man driving a different car, and learned from one of his co-workers that “his old car just up and died.” Enough said.
Forgiveness is a deliberate choice. You may not feel like forgiving. It doesn’t matter. Just do it. Sometimes the feelings will follow that choice – other times they won’t. Feelings are irrelevant, but obedience to God is crucial.
Do not base the validity of what you are doing on how you feel. Make the choice to forgive. God will supply the forgiveness, and set you free.
Father, I am so tired of holding on to the pain in my life. I want to forgive those who have hurt me, let go of the pain, and walk on. Today, I lay down my pride and my rights. I will not seek revenge or retaliation. I choose to love my enemies and bless those who have hurt me. Help me, Father.
In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Make a list of the sins in your life. Confess each one, and ask God to forgive you. When you are finished, write 1 John 1:9 across the list and destroy it.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9, NIV).
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