Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thirty Days of Prayer -- Day III

Forgive! Forgive! Forgive!!

Jesus told us, "Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions." (Mark 11:25) He also told us, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Matthew 5:44.

Jesus demonstrated this for us when He was on the cross. "But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."" Luke 23:24. He also demonstrates His merciful forgiveness to us every day, whenever we ask Him to forgive the sins we commit.

Jesus is the standard by which we live. Stephen followed Jesus when he prayed for those who were stoning him to death. "Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" Having said this, he fell asleep." Acts 7:60.

If we wish to be forgiven, we must forgive. We can forgive in an instant. All it takes is a decision to forgive. Since our minds are associate, something may trigger the pain of mistreatment even after we have forgiven it. We must not panic and assume that our decision to forgive did not stick. We can remind ourselves that we have, indeed, forgiven the matter and, thus, the incident is settled. We can choose not to re-hash the incident in our minds. We can let go of whatever thought has brought the matter to mind, and we can trust the Lord to heal any lingering pain.

Again, forgiveness is a decision and that decision can happen quickly. Our journey to healing from deep hurts must begin with a desire to forgive from the heart. We may need the prayers of others to help us. We may need the wise counsel of someone who can help us work through feelings of anger and pain and move on to the joy of forgiveness. We may need someone to step in and help us re-build a relationship with someone who has hurt us. The process of healing may take time, and it may involve pain. Yet, through it all, our desire should be to forgive, rather than merely to vent our pain or to use our pain as an excuse for our own sin.

We forgive for the Lord's sake and for the sake of the soul of the person who has offended us. Such forgiveness works far more powerfully for good in this world than human retaliation ever can. Though we forgive for the Lord's sake, a side benefit is that forgiveness also frees us from the chains of bitterness and enables us to freely enjoy our intimacy with the Lord. Forgiveness brings great peace.


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