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The delights of forgiving

Fifth in a six-week series on “forgiveness”

It’s freeing and fragrant.

Forgiveness.

Nothing is more liberating in life than knowing you’re loved and forgiven. Feeling abandoned or rejected is one of the worst hurts we’ll ever experience and produces feelings of loneliness, self-loathing, condemnation, etc. And, these are further deepened when the one who’s hurt us is too proud or stubborn to ask forgiveness from us.

Equally difficult is our having hurt someone else (either by commission or omission) and his/her refusing to forgive us. Even though we repeatedly ask for forgiveness — and even do things to show our contrition — no forgiveness is granted, leaving us guilt-ridden and heavy-hearted.

Without a doubt, forgiveness is a precious act whereby one person “releases” another from his “indebtedness.” This is especially so when the injury or injustice is great and any penalty/punishment is deserved. That’s why Grace (getting what we don’t deserve) and Mercy (not getting what we deserve) are two of God’s favorite Gifts. He knows what we are guilty and, by all rights, should mete out His Justice upon us.

Instead, with great Love, He frees us from our “wages of sin” (Romans 3:23; 6:23a) and “the curse of the Law” (Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10, 13). In doing so, He pardons us, which says we’re “guilty as charged,” but He’s chosen to forgive us and set us free.

Throughout the Bible we find numerous examples of such Grace and Mercy in action. One is that of Jacob and Esau. Twin brothers, they were as different as daylight and dark. One (Esau) was the favorite of his father, Isaac, while the other (Jacob) was the favorite of his mother, Rebekah (Genesis 25:28).

They were both like oil-and-water together and it was foretold by God that the younger son (Jacob) would rule over the older (Gen. 25:23). Years later, Esau would sell his birthright for a bowl of pottage (vv.29-34) and then Jacob would steal his brother’s blessing, which caused Esau to hate him and vow to kill him after their father died (27:1-41).

Some 20-plus years later the two are reunited after Jacob fled from home because of his brother’s wrath (27:42-46; 33:1-15). And, what a reunion it was! When Esau saw Jacob, he “ran to meet him, embraced him and kissed him — and they both wept” (v.4). And, then Jacob said to Esau, “When I saw your face, it was though I had seen the Face of God and you were pleased with me” (v.10).

What a beautiful example of what happens when Forgiveness is extended!

Likewise, the story of Joseph — Jacob’s 11th son — is also a wonderful picture of Forgiveness-in-action. Although captured, thrown into a pit and sold by his jealous brothers into slavery (Gen. 37:12-36) … falsely accused of attempted rape by his master’s wife (39:1-23) … and forgotten for “a full two years by Pharaoh’s butler” (40:1-41:1) … Joseph was later elevated to second-in-command in Pharaoh’s kingdom. And, only then did the pieces of his life’s jigsaw puzzle begin falling into place and he realized why all of it had happened (42:1-9).

Instead of harboring bitterness against his brothers, he forgave them and showed great Grace and Mercy to them — for he realized God’s Hand had been leading him all along (45:1-8).

And, after their father died, he told them “Fear not — for am I in the place of God? You thought to do evil against me, but God intended it for good” (50:19-20).

And, dear Reader, the same is true today. Even though others may hurt us by words and deeds, the Heavenly Father is able to heal those hurts and use EVERYTHING for “our good and His Glory” (Romans 8:28). The key is surrendering them to Him and allowing His Love/ Forgiveness to flow through us to those around us.

Here’s hoping you’ll let go of those hurts that bind you and forgive those who’ve done you wrong. Turn them over to Christ, the One Who forgave us from the Cross when He’d done nothing wrong. Only then will we be free and able to forgive others as He has forgiven us. Only then.

To contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” write him at P.O. Box 582, Coushatta, LA 71019 or e-mail him at pressingon@hotmail.com.

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