Friday, April 17, 2009

The Incredible Fredom of Forgiveness

Unforgivable! If ever a word points toward a tragic ending filled with overwhelming regret, surely this one does. It is a word filled with heartache and heartbreak. It floods our conscience with pain and scrapes at our emotions like rough sandpaper over the surface of soft wood. Recently, someone shared with me that what had happened to them was unforgivable. They could not, would not, and dare not forgive for in their eyes they had been wronged so completely. Rather than allow grace to intervene, they chose to embrace their pain, with little regard to their future and how this decision would dictate their legacy. Upon hearing this, I began to ponder “unforgivable” and whether it should ever be a word used by a follower of Christ. My conclusion - I think not.

Over 50 years ago, African American John Lewis, now a Democrat Congressman from Georgia was brutally beaten by a Ku Klux Klan member named Elwin Wilson solely because of the color of his skin. It was a crime of hatred that went unchecked and was forgotten by most, except Lewis and Wilson. As Wilson aged, his burden of guilt increased as his viewpoint regarding hatred changed. He had committed what some would say was an unforgivable act, and yet now he found himself faced with an overwhelming need for forgiveness. Mr. Wilson sought out Mr. Lewis and on February 6, 2009 publicly apologized for the wrong he had done to him so many years ago. What he found was a man who understood grace. What he realized was the freedom of forgiveness because there are few moments in life more powerful than when forgiveness is sought and received.

Do you need to forgive someone today? Do you need to seek forgiveness from someone you’ve hurt today? The Bible speaks to this matter with perfect instruction – “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." (Col. 3:13). If you are reluctant, think about this next statement and see if your willingness might change: What if the Lord refused to forgive you when you asked for forgiveness, where in eternity would you be headed right now?

Decide right now that you are going to call someone you have hurt and bridge the gap in the relationship by asking for forgiveness. Determine when you will make this call and just do it!