by Tim Howard
In the early years of my marriage I did a lot of foolish things and I wasn’t a very good husband to my wife. I could blame it on youthfulness since I was only 22 years old, immaturity, stress, difficult times or I could simply acknowledge the truth. I was self absorbed and totally selfish! In 37 years of marriage we have had our share of bad times! The word divorce has crossed our minds but one word has proven to be more powerful than the desire to go our separate ways. That word is FORGIVENESS!
The Bible tells us to “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as God forgave you in Christ.” Forgiveness is the foundation for everything God does in our lives. Jesus offers forgiveness to those who choose to follow him. He offers forgiveness to those who fail and choose to do unwise things. He even offers forgiveness to the ones who hate him, choose to rebel and don’t believe He is God.
You cannot have a long lasting, growing, ongoing, in-depth, healthy relationship without forgiveness. Something will happen, your relationship with stall, something will take place, someone will do something unintentionally or intentionally, it will break down, and the relationship will end. And when it does, more often than not, forgiveness is the one thing and sometimes the only thing that will get you going again.
Forgiveness cuts the cords to the past and gives you the possibility of a bright future. It’s one of the top five tools you need in your toolbox in order to maintain a growing relationship. Un-forgiveness locks a person into the past and provides a great environment for bitterness, resentment, hatred and anger to flourish but forgiveness is the key that sets you free.
The issue of un-forgiveness or forgiveness comes into play and becomes prominent when we experience hurt. Everybody hurts! We hurt physically. We have our cuts, scratches, bumps and our bruises. We hurt emotionally. That's a little more hidden and may be more difficult to deal with than physical pain. Fear, worry, anger, guilt, shame and depression are all expressions of emotional pain. We hurt relationally. The most difficult type of hurt to deal with is the hurt that's caused by other people. When this happens forgiveness is one of the best tools we can use to bring about healing and restoration.
It seems natural to become angry and un-forgiving, however. Have you noticed how easy it is to get angry and stay mad for long periods of time when you’ve been hurt by another person? Have you recognized how easy it is to nurse a grudge and how difficult is it to offer grace and mercy? If you keep putting wood on the fire by focusing on the negative, playing the DVD of past hurts over and over again, the fires of hate will continue to burn brightly.
Forgiveness is definitely not the easiest choice to make but it is the best! Holding a grudge, getting even, remaining bitter and choosing to walk in resentment may feel good and right for a season but it will ultimately destroy you. These remedies don’t work and only make things worse.
God demonstrated His love toward us by offering forgiveness through Jesus Christ. He is our example for the relationships we have with each other. As you work your way through the month of December and celebrate the Christmas season remember that forgiveness is the ultimate gift to give someone. It will be more valuable than any material item you could purchase.