Over a $5.99 breakfast special at Blueberry Hill this morning, my friend casually recounted — as if breezing through the latest gossip news — several remarkable stories of forgiveness in his life.
Honestly, the atrocities committed against this man in life are enough to harbor a fairly bitter heart.
In one of the stories, he reminisced about the time his ex-girlfriend sued him. On their first date, they got into an accident. Although the car suffered damage, both of them came away with simple minor scrapes and bruises. A year and a half later, AS THEY WERE STILL DATING, he was served lawsuit papers. She decided some pains had arisen in her body and she was going to sue him for $3 million!
To make a long story short, she was faking injuries, but his lawyer still settled for $1500 (which is a lot less than $3 million, but silly nonetheless).
Well, he forgave her (but he’s definitely not with her!).
Forgiveness comes quite easily to my friend. He’s forgiven people for things that have never even come close to happening to me. (I think the most I’ve had to forgive someone is my wife for eating the last piece of pizza).
The opposite of forgiveness? Bitterness. And there just isn’t room for both. “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” Hebrews 12:15
Are you allowing the lack of forgiveness in your life to become a root of bitterness? As Craig Groeschel writes, “The root of bitterness grows in the soil of hurt that has not been dealt with properly” (115).
How many wounds are carried around by people who are unable to forgive? How many bitter roots have taken hold of my own heart?
The Bible is quite clear about this subject. Unforgiveness – well, it’s a nasty sin!
Furthermore, as Christians, we are called to a standard of “otherworldly” living.
“Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” Luke 6:28
“If one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:13
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:43-44
Christian Atheists go around making excuses to avoid forgiving. Maybe the deed is just too nasty. Maybe the person hasn’t ever apologized. Maybe they haven’t found the right time.
Real Christians, however, do everything they can to fight their way back to the Cross. We can “find in God the sheer strength to battle through the feelings of anger, hatred, and bitterness” to find Jesus.
One of the most powerful examples of forgives I have ever witnessed is the story of the Amish community who attended the funeral of the gunman who entered their school and shot their children. You can watch this powerful news clip here.
What are you waiting for? Fight your way back to the Cross and forgive everyone.
Not only is it what we are called to do; it is what you must do.