“Forgiveness,” Chuck Swindoll writes, “is not an elective in the curriculum of servanthood. It is a required course, and the exams are always tough to pass.”
Paul writes in the New Testament, “Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32, The Message).
Jesus conveys the same notion, but far more pointedly, in His explanation of the Lord’s Prayer petition that says, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Says Jesus: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15). An unforgiving heart is a wall between God’s grace and us. An unwillingness to forgive others makes us useless instruments in God’s Kingdom.
Recently, I was reading the Bible and praying when a thought crossed my mind: Without realizing it, I had failed to forgive people who had hurt me. I suddenly saw that these feelings were blocking God’s power from parts of my life. I asked God to help me to forgive others so that I could allow His forgiveness to come to me. I began listing those I needed to forgive, each name I added coming as a revelation to me; I hadn’t known the bitterness I was harboring.
I’m sure that the people on my list would be as surprised to learn of my bitter feelings for them as I was. I have no intention of now self-righteously telling them, “I forgive you.” My unforgiving attitudes had little to do with them and everything to do with me. After my time of prayer, I felt liberated, ready to be a servant!
If you’re intent on being a servant of God, you might want to ask God to reveal the names of any people you haven’t yet forgiven so that your relationship with God will be renewed and you can be set free for living the life He has in mind for you.
Bible Passage to Ponder: “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25).