Matthew 6:14-15 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
How often have you said or heard someone else say, ‘I’m over it’ when asked about a difficult situation where someone has been upset by somebody? I think I have heard it more often from young adults who had one of their parents walk out on their life. They did not perform their parental duties and the child was terribly hurt and as they got older they wanted nothing to do with their mom or dad who had gone AWOL.
The world is full of hate right now. There is very little love and forgiveness, whether it be family, friends, strangers, the politicians and bloggers on political blogs. We as Christians need to lead the way with love and forgiveness. We need to do what Jesus has asked us to do or else he just died in vain. Truly forgiving someone that has upset you or really hurt you, does not mean that you have to jump back into the fire with them, but it means forgive and show your love by praying for them.
As Christians if we aren’t in the habit of forgiving, then how is God going to be able to use us to help others, especially to win souls? Let me tell you a little bit of what I learned about forgiveness.
My mom gave me a birthday party on my 7th birthday and apparently Dad didn’t want her to because when he came home, he told my mom to send the kids home. The party was over and some of the kids had already left anyway. My younger brother and sister and I were sent to our rooms and my father started screaming at mom, hurling all kinds of insults at her. It went on for a long time, till she finally broke down and cried. I was so upset with my father, that after that when I would kiss my mom good night before going to my room, I wouldn’t give my dad a good night hug or kiss unless mom told me to and even then he would just get the hug. As I got older, I realized that this was just the way dad was. I loved him, but I also felt cold towards him due to that night he made mom cry.
Dad died almost 4 months after my daughter was born. I was not allowed over to my parents house when they found out I was going to be an unwed mother, so he never saw her. A couple of days after my daughter was born, my dad sent me some flowers, with a card that said, ‘Congratulations, Love Dad’. At the time, I thought, that was nice of him, and had very little time to think anymore about it because I was starting to stress over being a brand new mom and not having a clue about how to raise a child. Years later, I realized that was his way of apologizing to me.
Dad had served 6 yrs in the USMC, during WWII. Every New Year’s day he made sure we were in front of the TV watching the beginning of the Rose parade with him, so we could see the Marine Corps band marching by.
After Dad died, when I watched the parade and saw the Marines march by, the tears would just pour down my face, even though I had only shed a couple of tears when he passed. For all those years, I always figured I was crying because I missed him. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when I was reading a book about forgiveness, that I discovered the real reason. It was written by a woman, who survived the Rwanda genocide. This woman had discovered God during that time. This woman said she had forgiven the man who had murdered her family and she even went to where he was being held and told him she forgave him. She had prayed and God had shown her who she needed to forgive and so I asked God if there was anyone I had not forgiven. I immediately saw my dad’s face. I immediately told my dad I forgave him and that I loved him and I asked God to forgive me for not forgiving dad sooner. I realize that the tears I was shedding each New Year’s Day, was because I was still remembering the hurt, the verbal abuse and the evening he made mom cry. After this, whenever I watched the Marines march down the street during the parade, I did not shed a tear, I just smiled and remembered watching them with dad, many a New Years’ day. It had become a good memory.
Opportunities to help people started coming my way. Up till then, I wasn’t sure what God wanted me to do, besides pray. One Weds, before bible study began, pastor called me aside and said that someone was starting a project and needed some help and I was the first one he thought of that could help her. It was an art project and I told them both I had no artistic talent at all. The woman told me she would show me what to do. Seniors needed rides to medical appointments and to bible study and other opportunities opened up where I could serve. I don’t think it was just a coincidence that opportunities happened when they did. I feel that God was waiting for me to forgive, so he could then use me in different ways.
Jesus died on the cross so our sins would be forgiven. No matter how difficult the situation, we need to show how much love we have for Him, by forgiving others as he forgave us.
The next time you hear someone say, ‘I’m over that‘ say to them, ‘but have you forgiven them‘ because it is just too important to let it slide by.