Jesus is the perfect example of forgiveness and He wants us to follow His example. If anyone had good reason to be offended by lies and injustices, it was Jesus. But He wants us to be free from all our past hurts and offenses.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
At this time of year, from one day to the next we don’t know if we’ll be stepping on ice or water. I saw an icicle hanging from a nearby building that was as thick as a good-sized person. It nearly touched the ground. Temps fluctuate often at this time of year, and we welcome the warmer days.
Speaking of icicles, they remind me of some people who I’ve known. Indeed, our hearts can become encased in ice. A frustration or hurt can cause us to form a thin crust on our injured soul. The longer we allow our feelings to rankle, the thicker the icy layer becomes. "I'll never forgive her," we might say. Like the Hatfields and McCoys, an unforgiving act can be carried down through the generations until families don't even know what injustice brought on the feud.
Jesus showed and taught the lesson of forgiveness wherever He went. His ultimate act of forgiveness came after His own followers turned their backs on Him and His persecutors taunted, beat, and eventually murdered Him. He still forgave them. Though most of us hopefully won't have to go through such drastic persecution, our job is to follow His example—being willing to forgive even 70 times seven.
That can be hard! Our emotions too often keep us from forgiving. But if we will trust and obey God, He will give us the strength to resist the urge to show resentment—and to forget the wrong. The popular phrase, "I can forgive but never forget" is a copout, something we should never settle for. We are to forgive as Christ forgave us—unconditionally, purposefully, permanently and lovingly.
It’s a medically proven fact that forgiveness brings emotional freedom. The "discovery" is not new. God's word has taught it for centuries. As we forgive—and love—those who have wronged us, something happens within us. The pain of the incident is washed away by God's power and inner peace is restored.
"Love keeps no record of wrongs." (1 Corinthians 13:5) God doesn’t want us to be scorekeepers of the wrongs we've suffered. Like a frozen icicle, our hearts will thaw and warm when they are full of forgiveness and love.
Lord, we don't want hearts of ice. Give us the grace to forgive others regardless of their motives. We commit to leaving the pain behind so we can walk with hearts filled with the warmth of Your peace and joy and love. In Jesus' name, amen.