Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gratitude, Day 14 (Forgiveness)

The theme of forgiveness seems to be a thread running through my week.  It's been paramount in our study of The Patriarchs, specifically Joseph, in our Beth Moore Bible Study class.  In our video session with Beth and as part of our homework, we've been studying about Joseph and his relationship with his brothers.  We all know the story, but I think we sometimes have a tendency to skim over the details.  When Joseph first recognized his brothers when they came to buy grain, he warred with his flesh in dealing with them.  His feelings ran the gamut of emotions as he struggled with the many years of pain he'd gone through due to his brothers having sold him into slavery many years previously.  His life would be characterized by integrity, but just like all of us, he had his moments of wanting revenge and carrying unforgiveness in his heart.  In the end, he told his brothers who he was and wept as he kissed each one.  He displayed true brotherly love and forgiveness.  I've always loved that verse from Genesis 50:20, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." 

Isn't it true that when we hold unforgiveness against another person, we are the ones who are in prison?  They have gone on with their lives, but we are holding on to the hurt and anger and the resolve to "get even".  We don't take the time to consider that Jesus forgave us and that His Word tells us we must forgive those who have wronged us in any way. 

I'm so thankful that the Lord has forgiven me - past, present and future and that He never counts the many times He's done so.  I have a fresh, clean slate every morning as I begin my day.   I know there have been times I have grieved the heart of God, yet He has forgiven me "seventy times seven."   He is the only one who truly loves us unconditionally.   

Forgiveness is a process.  It must be a conscious effort on our part.  It isn't necessary that we "feel" like forgiving someone; those feelings most likely will come later, but we must continue to pray and ask the Lord to help us forgive until we know in our hearts that it has happened.  This is hard and would be impossible without God, but if we ask Him, Jesus will help us do the right thing.  And oh, we'll be so glad we did!  Nothing lightens my heart like knowing I have let go of grudges, resentment and offenses. 

We also need to make sure we ask for forgiveness when we've harmed another person.  Even if it wasn't on purpose and/or we don't think we did anything wrong, I think it's important to let that person know we're sorry if we've done anything to hurt them.  We should do everything we can to bring about healing in the situation.

Dear Jesus, I thank You for forgiving my sins.  I thank You for Your patience, Your love and Your willing heart to forgive me when I stumble and fall.  Help me to have a humble and forgiving heart and not to take offense at something someone may say to me.  Help me to offer love and forgiveness to my fellow travelers on this journey we're on and may I have a sensitive spirit so that I may ask forgiveness of anyone I have hurt.  In Your precious and wonderful Name I pray, Amen.

A recent vintage BD card I made for a friend: