August 24, 2016
What You Miss When You Don’t Forgive
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:14-15 NIV).
Friend to Friend
One last wish.
The longing of a dying mother’s heart.
A wish that only one person could have satisfied. But he didn’t.
If you’ve read any of my books, you know that my childhood was a cauldron of violent arguments, alcohol-induced rage, and physically terrifying fights. As a child I saw things that a child should never see and heard things that a child should never hear. My parents were a mess. Their kids were even messier.
But God—my two favorite words in the Bible.
I met Jesus in a powerful way when I was fourteen years old, my mom followed when I was seventeen, and my mean old dad accepted Christ when I was twenty. Our family was a portrait of mercy and grace painted by the hand of an all-loving God.
A lot of forgiveness took place over the next thirty years as God reshaped and remolded once hardened hearts. But not everyone received the gift. Some held it at arms length and said, “No thanks. I’m hanging onto my hate.” Some chose to cling to unforgiveness and grasp resentment with a tight unrelenting fist. And the gift of grace was refused.
My mom did not get her final wish…to see her son one more time. I was sad for her, but mostly, I was sad for him. He missed the blessing of seeing the miracle of Mom’s gentleness, Mom’s humble kindness, Mom’s overflowing love for her family. He missed the preciousness of her final days.
Friend, I don’t want you to miss out on a single blessing God has for you. Not a one. Nothing will block the flow of grace like an unforgiving heart. Unforgiveness is drinking a poison and waiting for the other person to die. Forgiveness is setting the prisoner free and realizing the prisoner was you.
Once there was a little boy who had his hand caught in a valuable vase. After many failed attempts to get it free, his father decided the only solution was to smash the vase. But before the hammer came down upon the delicate porcelain, his father said, “Son, let’s try one more time. Open your hand inside the vase, and then bring your fingertips together. Now, try and slide your hand out of the opening.”
Then the boy looked up at his dad and replied, “I can’t, Daddy. If I do that, I’ll drop my penny.”
How many times do we miss out on God’s abundant blessings because we hold onto the pennies?
Are you clinging to unforgiveness with a tightly-clenched fist that says, “By golly I am not going to forgive that person who hurt me? She/He doesn’t deserve it!”
I am struck with the words of Paul to the Colossians: “Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13). Forgiveness is not for the benefit of the person who hurt you. It is for the benefit of the one doing the forgiving.
I don’t want you to miss out on a single one of God’s blessings. Let go of unforgiveness. Grab hold of grace. Be free.
Lord, thank You for forgiving me. I don’t want to miss out on any of the blessings You have for me because of a hardened heart. Today I forgive _________ for __________ once and for all. Even though I don’t feel like it, I am obeying Your command. I am letting go of this penny and coming to You with an opened hand to receive all You have for me.
In Jesus’ Name.
Now It’s Your Turn
Read Matthew 18:21-35. What do you learn about forgiveness from this parable? Which person in the story do you want to be like?
List 5 benefits of holding on to resentment. (This is a trick question. Just think about it.)
List 5 benefits of letting go of resentment.
Click over to my Facebook page and share your answers.
More from the Girlfriends
Today’s devotion came from my latest book, Take Hold of the Faith You Long For: Let Go, Move Forward, Live Bold. Just as a trapeze artist who grabs hold of a second bar, but refuses to let go of the first, we can get stuck in our faith when we refuse to let go of all that holds us back. It’s time to let go of all that holds us hostage to a “less than” life…and that includes WORRY about the future and regret about the past. We need to let go of worry and take hold of total trust in the goodness of God! Then we will truly move forward and live bold. Let’s take hold of all that Jesus has already taken hold of for us and placed in us! Check it out at www.takeholdthebook.com where you can download a free chapter and watch a video book trailer. The book also comes with a Bible study guide. Make sure and sign up for my weekly blog to learn when the free on-line Bible study will begin in the fall.
Girlfriends in God
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Originally published Wednesday, 24 August 2016.