Freedom In Three Little Words
by Dawn Aldrich
Three little words hardly spoken, hold great power. They tear down walls, mend broken relationships, and free the heart. Yet we trade freedom for pride, swallowed hard behind tight lips, clenched fists, and bleeding hearts. We hang onto blame with pain rather than releasing forgiveness.
We suffer long and hard in quiet desperation or spewing anger wondering when the pain will dull just a little–when will we ‘get over it’ once and for all? No matter how hard we try, the pain continues, rears its ugly head at all the wrong moments and we hit the wall.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us the importance of forgiveness (Matthew 6:5-15 NIV) :
“Forgive us our debts (trespasses or sins), as we also have forgiven our debtors (those who trespassed or sinned against us).
Jesus takes it one step further in verses 14-15:
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Does this mean God’s forgiveness is conditional? Not at all. If we seek God’s mercy for ourselves, we must willingly offer mercy and forgiveness to one another. God sent Jesus into the world not only to reconcile us to himself but also to one another. If we call ourselves followers of Jesus, then we must embrace all of him–including forgiveness. But how do we do that when there’s so much to forgive?
Ask for God’s eyes.
God only sees us redeemed-in perfect form-how He created us. We need to look at the one who wronged us through His eyes and offer mercy. God did not create the sin, the ugly, or the pain. But, He did promise to make all things good and it starts with 3 hard words: I forgive you.
Offering forgiveness does not right the wrong but forgiveness frees up our hearts from bitterness and allows us to move forward either toward reconciliation or away from the pain.
Is there someone whom God is asking you to forgive? If so, ask God to show you how to forgive. If the person is living, and the situation is safe, offer forgiveness face-to-face. If the individual has passed or the situation is unsafe, release the pain and speak forgiveness aloud, as though they were right there with you. Our minds remember and our hearts respond to audible words.
“Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.” 2 Corinthians 2: 7-8