Doug Johnson: Forgiveness isn’t always an easy thing for a person to do
Old Joe was dying.
For years, he had been at odds with Bill, formerly one of his best friends. Wanting to straighten things out, he sent word for Bill to come and see him.
When Bill arrived, Joe told him that he was afraid to go into eternity with such bad feelings between them.
Then very reluctantly and with great effort Joe apologized for things he had said and done. He also reassured Bill that he forgave him for his offenses.
Everything seemed fine until Bill turned to leave.
As he walked out of the room, Joe called out after him, “But remember, if I get better, this doesn’t count!”
Joe started with the right attitude… but it didn’t take long for his real intentions to surface. Forgiveness isn’t a feeling, it’s a choice we make.
Many people don’t feel forgiven because they haven’t learned to forgive others.
Rev. Billy Graham once said, “75 percent of patients in hospitals could be made whole if they would learn to forgive.”
But choosing to forgive someone who has abused or hurt you isn’t always easy to do.
In his book, “You Can Win!,” Roger Campbell told of a woman who had been treated wrongly by her church and came to him for help.
He was sympathetic to her plight, but he also realized she would not be delivered from her hurt feelings until she got a glimpse of the suffering Christ. “Has anyone spat on you yet?” Campbell asked.
“No,” she replied, shocked by his question.
“They did on Jesus.”
Campbell went on to say, “Suddenly she saw my point. While she had certainly been mistreated by people who should have known better, she had not endured the pain and shame experienced by Christ in His suffering and death for her sins.
My simple question changed her attitude about her persecutors and she was able to forgive those who had snubbed and avoided her.”
The simple fact is there are no perfect churches, perfect pastors, or perfect people. Sooner or later someone is going to say or do something to hurt you and when that time comes you will be faced with a choice, do you forgive them or hold a grudge?
In Matthew chapter 6, we find the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus wanted to teach His disciples the correct way to pray.
Halfway through the prayer, He adds this line: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
And then He explains it in more detail in verses 14 and 15: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
The lesson Jesus was trying to teach His disciples was this: either learn to forgive or stop asking God to give you something you’re not willing to give to others!
Every relationship we have thrives on forgiveness.
Husbands and wives must learn to forgive… parents and children must learn to forgive… even Christians must learn to forgive!
If someone has hurt you, look to the One who knows how you feel. Jesus understands what pain and loneliness feels like.
He will help you to forgive them and begin the healing process.
He will also forgive you as you learn to forgive others… because no one is worth messing up how your life ends!
Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia.
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