In observance of the upcoming holiday, Independence Day, I have angled my column toward another way of living in true freedom. In no way am I trying to take away from the real meaning of the fourth of July or this great country that we live in. I want to talk about forgiveness and the freedom that comes in forgiving others.
We know the familiar scripture from The Lord’s Prayer, in Matthew 6:11-12, “Give us our food again today, as usual, and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.” Most of us can quote this prayer easily but do we really mean it when we pray it? We want our Heavenly Father’s forgiveness but are we sincerely striving to issue forgiveness to those who have wronged us? We also can clearly see that if we do not forgive others then our Father in Heaven is in no way obligated to forgive us according to Mark 11:25, “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive you your sins too.” That is unquestionably easier said than done.
I would venture to say that most of us have been wronged or had our feelings hurt by someone at some time in our lives. I can speculate even further to say that we ourselves have in turn caused pain to another during our journey here. We must realize that we as humans are flawed and are in no way perfect. We hurt each other on a regular basis whether it would be on purpose or by accident.
I know that I have caused pain to others and I pray that those individuals have forgiven me. I myself have struggled with unforgiveness and still do at times. There are times that I actually say aloud to myself, “I forgive you,” to those who have caused me pain. I do this to honestly issue forgiveness in order to keep my heart pure and my Christian walk true.
Unforgiveness can become a foundation for negative thoughts and feelings to build walls and barriers between people. However, when we think of forgiving someone we think that we are letting them off the hook or doing them a great service. When in reality we are doing ourselves a huge favor by abiding by God’s word. The brutal truth is that unforgiveness does not hurt the other person. It only hurts the one harboring it. It robs us of the freedom that God wants us to have in our everyday lives. Unforgiveness keeps the pain alive and it paves the way for anger and resentment to stay in our hearts. If we are not careful we can erect a structure in our hearts that is founded and designed by harmful feelings and emotions.
If we can rid ourselves of unforgiveness, we will be able to live a life of freedom. We can be free from those negative thoughts and feelings that can chip away at our souls and minds. We can choose to offer forgiveness to those who have wronged us or we can choose to hold on to the pain and carry a lifelong grudge. However, I have found that there is freedom in forgiveness. When I forgive others then I have no obstacles standing between me and my Heavenly Father when I go to Him in prayer. When I feel that I have honestly issued forgiveness, then I feel that I have the freedom to pray for the things I may need at that time without guilt or shame.
Remember that there is freedom in forgiveness. Also remember that forgiveness is not just for the other person, more importantly forgiveness is for us. Through it we can find freedom and empowerment to live life with pureness and integrity.