“Yet give attention to your servant's prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.” 1 Kings 8:28
Day 5: Forgiveness
In order to live with freedom and joy in 2017 I MUST forgive past wrongs against me. Un-forgiveness pollutes my heart which kills my joy and productivity. It weighs down my soul and clouds my mind.
- And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And they cast lots to divide his garments. (Luke 23:33-34 ESV)
Jesus understands how it feels to be hurt. He was betrayed, mocked, abused, and beaten. Then He was falsely condemned and crucified. Yet at the one moment in history when righteous indignation was truly justified, Jesus instead asks His Father to forgive those who wronged Him. And just like that, my excuses for hanging onto any wrong, because the perpetrator didn’t “deserve” forgiveness or hasn’t yet asked for it, evaporates. After looking at Jesus’ response, I can’t hold past wrongs in my heart. I just can’t.
- For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, (Matthew 6:14 ESV)
My Abba Father forgives my sins. But He also requires me to forgive those who sin against me. I never deserve God’s forgiveness, but He gives it anyway, based on the blood of Jesus. Following His example, no one needs to deserve my forgiveness for me to extend it either.
- Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32 ESV)
I have a much easier time being kind and forgiving when those actions and emotions are returned. But our Lord never allows us to use others’ actions as our guide. Jesus is our model!
- Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times." (Matthew 18:21-22 ESV)
As we pray today, we need to think of EVERY wrong, hurt, unkindness, betrayal, etc, from 2016, or before, that we held onto. It is time to really clean house. Let’s search the deepest recesses of our hearts, where we like to tuck away our pet grievances. If we ask Jesus to reveal these, He will do it. But when He does, we must be faithful to forgive, forgive, forgive.
- So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24 ESV)
Day 5 Prayer
Thank you for being a forgiving God. Thank you for forgiving me of my many sins. Lord, You also call me to forgive those who have wronged me, as freely as You forgive me.
But Lord, I confess I struggle with this. It feels wrong that others should "get away" with their wrong actions and hurtful words. Just thinking about some of the junk that happened last year, I feel angry all over again. I want that person to get what they deserve, or at least realize how hurtful their actions were and apologize to me.
But Lord, that is not Your example to me. Your example is to forgive the hurtful. Your plan is to love enemies. Your way is replace condemnation with love. So Jesus, I want to clean house and I need Your help. Please bring to my mind any hurt I have packed away and held onto. Help me to drag it out into the light of Your truth, deal with it, and forgive the person, once and for all.
Lord, I ask You to help me forgive the members of my family. Those wrongs cut the deepest, and are the hardest to forgive. Please help me to free these relationships up from the junk I keep dragging around. Help me to forgive and let go, once and for all.
And Jesus, there are some hurts that go way back. I have carried their burden for years and years. Please show me the way to transfer that load to you, forgive my perpetrator, and allow You to deal with them. I want to follow Your example to forgive, and I desperately want to be free of the weight of the past.
Jesus, I pledge to forgive each item You bring to mind today. May I be faithful to be as generous with my forgiveness as Your are with Yours toward me.
I love You, Jesus. Amen.
- bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:13 ESV)
Who wants to be FREE in 2017? I know I do. That is why today, I am going to do the hard work of forgiving each and every item Jesus brings to my mind.
Forgiveness scrubs our soul and frees our heart to new power and life in the New Year. There may be no more important act we do to make 2017 the best year yet.
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