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The Necessity of Forgiveness 22: Freedom!

The Necessity of Forgiveness Day 22 – Freedom!

Our prayer is that this study on forgiveness has opened your eyes and your heart to the need to forgive someone you’ve so far been unable to. If we are completely honest in this, most of us have had our own struggles with forgiveness. We’ve felt justified on occasion in our unwillingness to extend grace and forgiveness because our hurt was so deep. Some who know our story may even be helping us uphold our lifelong grudge, consoling us and telling us it’s understandable and they would feel the same way. So we continue in our behavior, growing accustomed to those feelings and allowing them to remain and fester. 

Living with these feelings day after day, year after year, will corrode our tender spirit for the Lord. We cannot purposefully serve and fully love the Lord while nursing these bitter feelings. Why would we want to continue this way when a close relationship with our Savior here and our future reward in heaven are at stake? A mature believer will not want this to continue, but should, instead, seek freedom.

Freedom sounds wonderful, but how can we find victory in this? If you’ve looked into the face of someone who has harmed or even taken the life of a loved one, freedom may seem impossible. If you come face to face with the man or woman who “stole” your spouse, how can you offer forgiveness? If you look in the mirror—into the eyes of a woman who aborted her own child—how can you find freedom? If you encounter the person who stole and spent your hard-earned savings and now you are struggling to make ends meet, what are you to do? How can there be grace and forgiveness in hurts that run this deep?

It’s hard, and it may not be something we can readily come to terms with and extend grace as we know we should, yet it weighs on our spirits like a heavy burden. It’s the voice in our heads when we stare at the ceiling and sleep won’t come. It’s the tears that come easily when the loss cuts deep and we remember. It can silence our worship and birth a new indifference in us that we never experienced before. It’s unsettling and scary and causes us to withdraw. The feelings can turn dark and we respond irrationally. 

Fostering ill feelings for someone will steal our joy and corrupt our spirit. It’ll slowly lead us away from the Lord, and before we know it, we are living in bondage to our grudge. Oh friends, may we be willing to pour out our feelings to our Father and ask for the needed help to do exactly as He desires us to. We know—we absolutely know—forgiveness isn’t optional for the believer, so we must find a way to release our grudge against the person. When we finally do, we feel the release ourselves and it’s our freedom from those awful thoughts and feelings. 

Freedom doesn’t mean we must subject ourselves to mistreatment again and again; we may need space from that person or persons. It doesn’t mean we have to understand what our offender did to us. It doesn’t mean we need to be best friends going forward. It simply means that, by the grace of God, we let go of resentment and anger. It means we use our words to voice our forgiveness, and then back it up by our actions. It means we do not hold them accountable any longer for the hurt they caused us. And it means that hurt no longer corrupts us or drives us. 

Does this sound too good to be true? We hope that today you’ll take it to God in prayer and be willing to obey His leading, that you’ll do whatever is necessary to live peaceably with all. When you find freedom in this, you’ll breathe easier, sleep better, live more fully and  be able to serve the Lord with a pure and upright heart. Are you ready? Why not today?

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32, ESV)

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