I heard about a Sunday school teacher who asked her class about forgiveness. She said, “Kids, what does a person need to do to receive forgiveness from God?”
There was a short pause, and then a small boy spoke up and said, “You have to sin.”
We’ve all done that, haven’t we? If we’ve sinned, then we need forgiveness. The good news is that God promises in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (NLT).
Not only do we need forgiveness when we sin, but we also need to forgive others who have wronged us. When we’ve been hurt, we have a choice: We can rehearse what happened, or we can release it.
Forgiveness, however, isn’t condoning or dismissing someone’s bad behavior. It isn’t even reconciliation, because that isn’t always possible. To forgive means surrendering our right to get even. It means we’re not going to pay that person back, even though they may deserve it.
Instead, put them in God’s hands, because Romans 12:19 tells us, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord” (NLT).
Is there someone you’re holding a grudge against right now? To fail to forgive actually can bring your prayer life to a halt. Jesus said, “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too” (Mark 11:25 NLT).
Are you bound up in bitterness and haven’t been able to forgive? The more you know about God’s willingness to forgive you, the more you’ll be willing to extend that same forgiveness to others.
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