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Forgiven + Forgiving

There was a man who was an alcoholic most of his adult life. He had struggled with many things as a result. One evening while under the influence, the man took his motorcycle out for a drive. He didn’t know this trip would change his life.

The man drove his motorcycle right out in front of a vehicle and was involved in a deadly accident. The only thing is, that the drunk man did not die. The gentleman driving the vehicle lost his life that day. For the sake of the story, we will call him Greg.

While the drunk man was in prison for the death the collision had caused, Greg’s family came to visit him. They told him they love Jesus and forgive the man for what happened. They dropped the charges against him and let him go free. However, they had one request…that the man would go to church with them… and he did. While at church, the man gave his life to Jesus. He lived the last few years of his life on fire for the Lord and restoring the relationships in his life.

The man in this story was my husband’s Grandfather. To this day, it’s one of the most powerful stories on forgiveness that I’ve ever heard. Forgiveness changed his life AND his eternity.

God’s love for us means that by believing in Jesus, we can be FORGIVEN for all of our sins. Jesus’ death paid the price for us.

This is the Gospel coming TO US. Sadly, we experience hurts in life that make it difficult for forgiveness to flow THROUGH us. When we experience the deep, real pain of being wounded by someone, we can easily forget all the forgiveness we ourselves have been granted.

How do we forgive what hurts so deeply?

1. Forgiveness flows from a humble heart.

When you remind yourself of all you’ve done and all that God has forgiven you of, you remember that forgiveness is not just for receiving but also for giving to others. “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians‬ ‭3:12-13‬ ‭ESV‬)

2. Forgiveness sees like God sees.

God sees us through eyes of grace and mercy. He is compassionate. He doesn’t look at us through the lens of “what we’ve done”. When we try to look at others the way God sees them, we can begin forgiving and truly forgiving. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God;” (Ephesians‬ ‭2:8‬ ‭ESV‬).

3. Forgiveness sets YOU free.

We often think that when we finally forgive someone, they will be “set free”. However, it’s quite the opposite. Unforgiveness is like a sickness in our hearts that can spread quickly and affect every area of our lives. I’ve heard someone say that unforgiveness is like traveling with multiple bags of luggage, and everywhere you go, every day, you’re packing all of that baggage around with you. It gets heavy, and YOU get tired.

What has been really hard for you to “let go of”? Have you held unforgiveness in your heart and become bitter or resentful?

One of my favorite passages on responding to what others have done to us is 1 Peter‬ ‭3:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬ which says, “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.”

Today is your day to be set free and lay down the baggage of the past. Today is your day to forgive. It’s flowed to you; now let it flow THROUGH you. Pray and watch what God will do in your heart as you let go and move forward… it just may change the life of the person you forgive, too.

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