When we refuse to dwell on wrongs we have suffered, we are set free from the damaging and destructive practice of nursing grudges.
Vengeance refuses to wait upon God or to trust God. An unforgiving spirit shuts the door to the heart. God’s forgiveness is shut out. When you let God’s forgiveness in, your forgiveness can be let out. John Redhead, in Learning to Have Faith, uses the illustration of God’s bucket of forgiveness and love and man’s bucket of resentment toward a fellow man. Man must empty his bucket before he has any place to receive God’s forgiveness.
When General Oglethorpe said, “I never forgive,” John Wesley said, “Then I hope sir, you never sin.”
Robert Louis Stevenson, who always led his family in daily devotional and the Lord’s prayer, stopped one day during the Prayer and left the room. His wife, fearing he was ill, followed him. He explained that as he prepared to repeat “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” he realized that he was not fit that day to pray that prayer.
CONFESSION AND GOD’S FORGIVENESS
“No amount of falls will undo us if we keep picking ourselves up each time. We shall, of course, be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes in the airing cupboard.
It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of His presence” (C.S. Lewis). Confession to God always brings cleansing from God.
GOD’S FORGIVENESS IS FOREVER
God looks on the forgiven person as a new person. The story is told about a minister traveling in Europe who was invited into a home for the night. The man of the house explained that his twelve-year-old boy had been adopted during the war years. The father told of the desperate condition in which they had found the boy, of his tattered clothing and worn-out shoes. The father explained that they gave the lad new clothing, but kept the old shoes as a reminder of how the boy looked when they found him. Periodically, the old shoes were brought to the child to remind the lad of his previous condition. The minister noting that the boy looked hurt and ashamed while the father was speaking, thought to himself how glad he was that God does not continually drag out our old clothes (B. W. Woods, You Can Learn to Forgive).
GREAT WEALTH IN FRIENDSHIP
“The richest man in the world is not the one who still has the first dollar he ever earned. It is the man who still has his friend” (Martha Mason).