by Debbie W. Wilson @DebbieWWilson
“Will you help me control my thinking?” The airport shuttle driver’s question surprised me. He’d obviously overheard my conversation with the woman leaving the shuttle. His landlady, who called herself a Christian, had wronged him. Hurt and anger showed in his eyes and words.
How could I help this man see that to be freed from his pain he needed to forgive the woman who’d caused it?
I’m sure people have disappointed and hurt you too. It’s part of life on planet earth. Maybe that’s why Jesus included forgiveness in the prayer He taught his disciples.
Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matt. 6:12 NLT).
Isn’t it ironic that we must forgive the ones we least want to forgive? This isn’t a cruel joke. It’s protection. Granting forgiveness heals our wounds and frees our souls.
I’ve read articles about forgiveness. Some platitudes offered more harm than good. They painted forgiveness as a magic wand that erased all pain. Hurt feelings don’t necessarily indicate unforgiveness. They may reveal deep wounds.
Scratches heal quickly. But deep injuries take time to mend. Forgiveness sets healing in motion.
To avoid the hard work of forgiving, we avoid the issue with, “It’s no big deal.” Or we tell ourselves, “Why must I forgive? This is too big. They don’t deserve to be forgiven.” To overcome this resistance, it helps to remember who benefits when we forgive. We do—as well as those we love.
They may not deserve to be forgiven. But do you deserve to prolong your suffering by holding on to the sharp barbs of bitterness? Or do your loved ones deserve to live with your hostility or be shaped by your destructive example?
Forgiveness benefits the one who gives it. We forgive for our own sake. We also forgive for the sake of those we love, because bitterness is a poison that can’t be contained.
The person who wronged us may not even be aware of our turmoil—or care. They may be dead. But if our resentment lives on, we suffer and model a harmful example to those who watch us.
Resentment drains the joy out of life and erects a wall between us and God. He hasn’t moved, but we feel distant. Tormented souls snap at small irritations, miss the beauty around them, and injure those in their wake. How many spouses, children, and coworkers suffer because of someone’s unwillingness to forgive?
Your freedom is at stake. Forgive to free yourself from turmoil. Forgive for the sake of those you love. Scripture describes how holding on to offenses can affect those around us: “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15 NIV).
I explained the benefit of forgiveness with my shuttle driver. When we reached the airport, he handed me my luggage. “I’m going to do what you said,” he smiled. “I am going to be free.”
What about you? Are you ready to be free? Forgiveness brings freedom for the one who forgives. Forgive—for your sake and the sake of all you love—including Jesus.
The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40 NIV
About the author: Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman who has experienced an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, she speaks, writes, and coaches to help women discover relevant faith. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog.
Debbie’s book, Little Women, Big God will introduce you to the surprising women in Jesus’s family tree. As they journey through impossible circumstances, each discovers that quality of life is not determined by the size of our problems but by the size of our God.
Join the conversation: Have you been able to forgive a wrong done to you or a loved one? Please share how God enabled you to do so.