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Pilgrim reflections | The hardest thing you’ll ever do

It’s impossible to do in your own strength.

Partly because you don’t want to. And, partly because you need help to do it.

What is this seemingly invincible obstacle or foe?

It’s forgiving those who’ve hurt you.

You know—letting go of those injuries others have inflicted upon you by word and/or deed. Not keeping a record of others’ slights and slurs. Refusing to harbor resentment or bitterness in your heart. Relinquishing your rights to get even, “settle the course,” seek vengeance, etc.

And, again, that’s impossible to do in your own strength; yet failing to do so strains or break relationships. It also blinds and binds you as the “bile of bitterness” becomes a virtual cancer in your soul.

Yes, an unforgiving spirit will taint everything you’ll think, say and do. It’ll make you hypercritical and judgmental of others. There’ll be a sharp edge on everything you say. Your actions will be hurtful and vindictive—especially toward the one you’re bitter toward; yet, they may seem unaffected by it.

Partly because they enjoy seeing you suffer. Or, they may be oblivious to your seething resentment within, which infuriates you even more.

That’s why someone likened unforgiveness to trying to get back at the offender by you drinking poison. It just doesn’t work. And, it sure will do a number on the one who refuses to forgive.

Mentally. Emotionally. Physically. Spiritually.

No wonder Jesus said “You cannot be forgiven by God until you forgive” (Matthew 6:14-15). Even if you profess to be one of His followers…go to church every Sunday…give to the poor…and visit the sick…but “don’t forgive other their trespasses against you, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive your trespasses” (v.15).

So, as the ‘ole saying goes, “The ball’s in your court.”

What are you going to do? Hang on your bitterness and be miserable for the rest of your life? Or, forgive, let go of the injustices and injuries you’ve received and go on with life?

The choice is yours.

Hopefully, you’ll realize life’s too short to pitch a tent on your resentment and continually nurse your hurts.

Forgive them. Turn everything over to God. Bury those hurts in “The Land of Forgiveness and Forgottenness” and move on with life. Otherwise, you’ll always be the way you are and life will go on without you.

Again, the choice is yours.

On October 2, 2006 a 32-year-old man named Charles Roberts backed his pickup truck up to the front of a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, where Amish children attended. He barricaded the doors, called his wife and began binding his hostages with plastic ties. When police arrived, but refused to leave, he began shooting the children. And, when the officers stormed the building, he committed suicide.

His was a life filled with bitterness over things in the past. He finally reached the tipping point and others suffered because of it. However, the Amish people didn’t give in to hatred or vengeance; they began ministering to the killer’s family, even though five of their children had died and four other young girls—ages six to 13—had been sexually abused.

They cooked for the murderer’s family. They attended his funeral service. They held his grieving wife and parents in their arms. They set up a charitable fund for his family in his name.

How/why could they do this?

Simply because they’d experienced firsthand God’s Love and Forgiveness through Christ. They knew Jesus had forgiven them on the Cross and shed His Blood so they could be pardoned and spend eternity with Him.

They also knew they wouldn’t be forgiven if they didn’t forgive.

Here’s praying you also know that, dear Reader, and will “let go and let God.” Forgive those who’ve hurt you. Ask forgiveness from those you’ve offended. Then, get on with life, letting the Heavenly Father use you as He sees fit. Only then will you know what it means to “have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Only then. God bless you.

If you’d like to contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at pressingon@hotmail.com.

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