Power of Forgiveness
Contributed by a regular writer Michelle
Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16)
Last night, I had a dream. In it, I was teaching my mother how to forgive. I was right by her side asking her if she saw a picture of people in her life where she might have been angry and not forgiven them. For example, it could be her father or mother, the kids from school, co-workers; the whole nine yards including herself. As she was having this sweet moment with Jesus in my dream, I watched as her breathing became weightless, exhaling all the burdens. At the same time, the enemy was trying to stop the whole experience by wanting to physically attack her. That is when the cool part came. I turned into this “sword throwing, fearless machine” that I am sure mimicked a scene straight out of LOTR or Kill Bill Plus. I was able to prevent any hindering spirit from coming against my mother while casting all of her burdens upon the Lord. At one point, I became so powerful because I knew the power of forgiveness. Seriously though, it was a good thing it was a dream because me by myself does not have any power, except through faith in Jesus, who clothes me continually in His righteousness.
Still, it may have been this dream that compels me to write about “forgiveness” today.
Jesus said, “And when you stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25)
An example from my own life comes to mind, reminding me of an episode of 90210, or Days of our Lives. I had been best friends with my neighbor for about 13 years at the time. We did everything together; we were sisters. Some might even suggest partners in crime. We laughed, cried, took photo shoots in the park with an orange. The whole kit-an-caboodle. At the same time, I had a very close friend who was a guy and we had been friends for the same amount of time. We would hide from our parents, eat sugar from the tea dish, play house together, and fall in the lake and the brook with our clothes on. We were crazy kids. Although up until this point, both of my dearest friends had never met, when they finally did meet at my 20th birthday, they started to fancy one another. It wasn’t until they started seeing each other and began to date that I realized I had become the third wheel between my closest friends. At the time of finding this out, I was devastated! I thought I would lose two of my closest friends. I remember being so filled with anger and hurt for being put in such a position. I approached the whole thing terribly; crying to my other friends. In fact, I became the Drama Queen. I did not want any contact whatsoever from either of them.
Months passed before my dear guy friend appeared at the door with flowers. He knew how valuable our friendship was and really didn’t want me to be upset. So I tucked the anger deep down into my heart where no one could see that I was still filled with bitterness and resentment — not wanting to forgive. I ignored the situation until…
Six months had past and I found myself at the School of Ministry in Toronto, where the speaker was sharing scripture about the power of forgiveness. The presenter said that when we latch onto bitterness and anger, we are giving the enemy an inroad into our life. Conversely, when we seek Jesus and His righteousness with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, our life begins to change. We begin to understand what it means to “be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
In this, I learned that God loves me so much and if He — who knows firsthand that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” — does not hold onto anger, then we need to reassess our ability to forgive too. In the example cited above, I was blinded by my hurt. I had forgotten that previously, I had loved my best friends so much that nothing could stand in the way. Jesus said, “for if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matthew 6:14) This scripture rang a bell.
I forgave them; but more importantly, I asked the Lord to forgive me. Later that day, I sent a text message to my dear friend apologizing for not being there for them. I told them how much I cared about our friendship. Later, she told me that she was in tears when she read the message. She physically could not work because she was so overwhelmed by what had happened. You see, forgiveness changes hearts. Needless to say, in the following months, our friendship grew even stronger. And now, she is a sister to me that I will always love.
What did I learn? First, bitterness and anger has no authority over God’s infinite love. Second, it is impossible to forgive someone else when you yourself are blinded by hurt, anger and bitterness. Remember what Jesus said when Peter asked Him, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?” What did Jesus say? “I say not unto thee, until seven times BUT until seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22)
There is a valued message here. So much good character comes from turning the other cheek. This might explain why Jesus tells us “to forgive those who trespass against us, even as He forgives us our trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15) So that we can be stretched to understand that in forgiving, as Jesus has forgiven us, we learn that we have a much higher calling to pursue — that includes, serving one another. (Galatians 5:13)