by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio @DrMaryAnnDiorio
“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will…give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins…” Luke 1:76-77 NASB
CHRISTMAS! The word evokes many feelings, depending on our experiences. For some, Christmas is a happy time, filled with beautiful memories and joyful expectations. For others, Christmas is a depressing time, a season one wants “to get over with” as quickly as possible because of bad memories associated with this time of year.
Having ministered to people for many years, I have come to the conclusion that depressing memories at Christmas time are most often related to problems of refusing to forgive. Hurts from the past become more pronounced during the Christmas season, but the reason those hurts still affect us is that we have not let go of the bitterness associated with them. In short, we have not forgiven the people who have hurt us.
Why do most people have such a difficult time forgiving? I believe the main reason is that they do not understand what forgiveness really means. So, what is true forgiveness?
LET’S LOOK FIRST AT WHAT FORGIVENESS IS NOT:
- Forgiveness is NOT letting someone off the hook.
- Forgiveness is NOT condoning evil.
- Forgiven is NOT being a doormat.
- Forgiveness is NOT having to trust again the person who hurt us.
- Forgiveness is NOT a feeling.
- Forgiveness is NOT an option.
NOW LET’S LOOK AT WHAT FORGIVENESS IS:
- Forgiveness IS taking the person who hurt us off of our hook and placing him on God’s hook, then praying that God will have mercy on him.
- Forgiveness IS acknowledging that evil was done but choosing to bear the consequences of that evil without retaliation.
- Forgiveness IS taking charge of our emotions.
- Forgiveness IS setting boundaries with the person who hurt us, even refusing temporary or permanent interaction with that person, if necessary. An example would be a wife who is being beaten by her husband.
- Forgiveness IS a decision.
- Forgiveness IS obedience to God’s commandment to forgive.
No matter how badly we have been hurt, we must choose to forgive. It’s the best thing we can do for our own well-being. Refusing to forgive is unhealthy for us. It chains us emotionally to the person who hurt us. Forgiveness breaks that chain and sets us free.
What better time is there than the Christmas season to forgive those who have hurt us? Paul wrote the Ephesians: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32 NASB). The very essence of Christmas is the truth that God forgave humanity through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Who are we not to forgive when God has forgiven us?
So this Christmas, let’s forgive! But not just forgive. Let’s ask those whom you have wronged to forgive you. As the Word of God tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NIV). As long as we are on this earth, it is never too late for the healing forgiveness brings.
May we all forge happy memories this Christmas as the power of forgiveness sets us free!
About the author: Dr. MaryAnn Diorio loves God, people, children, and dogs, in that order. She is passionate about story and its power to transform the human heart. Dr. MaryAnn, as she is affectionately called, writes compelling fiction that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart. She and her husband Dominic are the blessed parents of two wonderful daughters, a fantastic son-in-law, and five precious, rambunctious grandchildren. Find out more about MaryAnn at http://maryanndiorio.com/.
For a heartwarming, compelling story on the power of forgiveness, you may wish to read MaryAnn’s popular novella titled A Christmas Homecoming, available in electronic format for your Kindle, Nook, or iPad. To view the beautiful book trailer, click here.
Join the conversation: When has forgiveness set you free?