The power of forgiveness

A few days ago, I heard a story about an employer who forgave his employee for stealing money.

The employee had written a cheque and forged the signatures of his employer and the financial officer.  When the fraud was discovered, the employee ultimately confessed.

The employer and financial officer forgave him.  They then put him on a repayment plan.

But, perhaps the most important step was that they have decided to assign him new responsibilities in an area where he is particularly gifted.  They know him to be a good-hearted young man who comes from a troubled background.

Think about that act of forgiveness.  It has the power to turn around a young man’s life.

Of course, forgiveness plays a vital role in the story of Christ – and in our lives as Christians.

Christ came in human form to suffer and die for us so that our sins might be forgiven.  Unlike the young man I mentioned, there is no repayment scheme for us – Christ is our repayment.  He made the payment on our behalf.

Christ also demonstrated forgiveness in other ways.

Peter Horrobin notes in his book The Most Powerful Prayer on Earth that Jesus called out to the Father on the cross: “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”  He said those words while dying on the cross as people mocked him and gambled for his clothes.

As Horrobin says, Christ was going beyond offering personal words of forgiveness.  He was asking the Father to spare the mockers from the punishment they deserved.

Jesus also forgave Peter for denying him after his arrest.  He commissioned him to be a leader in the church after Christ’s ascension to heaven.

We, too, are asked to forgive others.  Failing to forgive has serious consequences – sometimes leading to emotional, physical and spiritual problems.

This is something I have learned relatively recently in my life.  The full impact of unforgiveness only hit home to me when some friends and I were doing a study on healing prayer seven years ago.

I realized that there were people I had not forgiven for hurts that dated back 60 years.

Forgiving should flow from a heart that is grateful to God for forgiving me.  It pleases God and it frees me, too.

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