by Dawn Smiling
“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” Colossians 3:12-14 (Message)
Do you ever watch children have a disagreement? It can seem so terrible with screaming and crying one minute. But ten minutes later, it appears all is forgiven and they are playing together like nothing ever happened. Their attention span has no time to dwell on old business. Onto the business at hand, more play time. As we get older, we don’t seem to forget as quickly. We tend to hold onto grudges a little longer than we should. We tend to admonish our brother or sister to forgive that family member, co-worker, or loved one, until God brings the challenge into your life and the burden of forgiving now rests on you.
I was faced with a trial that forced me to make a choice. Do I forgive the situation that was so piercing to the soul, or do I hold out because I was right and the other person was wrong. Would you withhold forgiveness because you are in the right? I was forced to go into deep prayer. When the question of forgiveness strikes your life, and God is bringing the challenge to your doorstep. How do you embrace the hurt, pain, or disappointment that comes along with the choice to forgive? Does forgiveness apply to others, but not your stuff?
Freedom of forgiveness enables us to restore our brother or sister to Christ in love. Matthew 18:15-17 encourages us to restore in love in order for reconciliation to abound. Forgiveness prevents our prayers from being hindered. Mark 11:25 teaches us to forgive so that our Father in heaven may forgive you of your sins. How should we expect God to forgive us, if we are not willing to let it go? In order to have a clear pathway to the Father, our heart must be free of the debris that is holding judgment against a brother or sister. There is nothing worse than someone telling you they remember something you said 20 years ago, and it really hurt their feelings. This means they carried this burden around for a very long time where bitterness, anger and pain took root. Forgiveness allows the Holy Spirit to flow freely through you. Ephesians 4:30-32 teaches us not to grieve the Holy Spirit. We are to let go of the anger, slander and every form of malice. Rather, we are encouraged to be compassionate, kind and forgiving of one another.
My trials have taught me to be ready and stay ready to forgive. As Jesus was on the cross with the two thieves, He said to the one who asked to be remembered, “This day, you shall be with me in paradise.” In spite of the excruciating pain Jesus was in, He forgave and took the thief home with him. The more we forgive, the more people will go home with us to be with the Lord. Yes, you will experience hurt in this life, but if you hold on to the wrong offenses that have been done to you, you will remain in bondage with a spirit that cannot be used by God. But the freedom in forgiveness releases power, strength, and an open door for God to extend unlimited grace over your life.
When I forgave the biggest challenge of my life, I was free to see heaven through new eyes. I was free to say, “Satan get behind me, for I will see God!” It may seem that forgiveness is to release the other party, but truly forgiveness is to release you. Don’t miss it. It is an awesome feeling, and God will be well pleased. And after you forgive, wear love.
Dawn Smiling enjoys volunteering at Grace Family Church as a prayer counselor, part of the soul care ministry, and as a table leader for Beautiful Monday Nights.