“You Can Forgive!”
By Pastor Jerry Donovan
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:14-16 of the New English Translation (NET Bible): 14 “For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins.”
People are hurt often in our society in many ways, often by others who do not realize they are hurting us. The example that some leaders are now advocating is if you hurt me, I will strike back and hurt you twice as much. God calls us to forgive others, but how do we do that?
We need to remember that we are all imperfect people. Colossians 3:13 says, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (NLT). We know that no one is perfect. When we are hurt, we tend to lose our perspective about that person who hurt us.
Choose empathy over your desire to retaliate. The Bible says, “Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it”” (Romans 12:19 The Message). Give Up your right to get even. Trust God to confront that person who hurt you and trust him to work things out for you.
Respond to evil with good. Romans 12:21 says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (NIV). Getting even takes you down to the other person’s level. Take the high road instead. That is what Jesus did in his lifetime as an example of how God expects us to live our lives. Treat your enemies with kindness. It is almost impossible to do this on your own. That’s why we all need the love of Jesus to fill us up.
When you are focusing on the people who hurt you, you are letting them control your life. When you forgive them, you find the freedom to focus on God’s purpose for your life. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you” (NLT). Refocus on God’s plan for your life.
People in our jail ministry often are filled with anger and thinking about getting even with the people they blame caused them to be in jail. They can think of nothing else. Basically, those people they are blaming are living their own lives and have forgotten about them, and yet these prisoners’ thoughts are filled with plans of revenge. I tell them and you the best revenge is to pray for those who have hurt you, ask God to forgive them, and when you see them, walk up to them, shake their hand, tell them you are praying for them and leave. God says we are to love our enemies, but he doesn’t say we have to like them. Let this be your revenge for you will be in their thoughts, and they will no longer be controlling your thoughts and actions.
Don’t go another day with resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness in your heart. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)
You are invited to the virtual worship services of the Methodist Churches of Van Horn and Sierra Blanca on Facebook. Send a friend request to Jerry Donovan.