Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Walk in the Freedom of Forgiveness

Unforgiveness
I long to have
A Perfect heart
But all I bring before you
Is a heart of stone
Encaged in a fort
Of unforgiveness;
I once asked
For your angels
To come break down this wall,
But now I see
It is up to me
To open the gates let your word melt my heart;
Only then when I stand before you
Only then when I say I love you
Only then when I say I reflect you
Will I know that I am true to you.

The Inspiration
If you’ve heard or read this story am about to share, it’s ok but I just have to talk about it because I remembered it this morning. I was in an airport. I saw a family consisting of four children (probably spaced 1 or 2 years apart). The eldest was about 9. One of her younger sisters (about 4 years old) fell down from her seat. Their mother was there. But it was the elder sister that carried her up, cuddled her, wiped her tears, said soothing words to her, and cheered her up, before handing over the now-happy child to their mother. What amazed me was despite the small age difference between the two (and they were almost same size), there was a powerful love that came out of the elder one, a love that gave her strength to carry her sister up. For some reason I tried to forecast this love 15 years down the line. I was expecting to see 15 times that amazing love. To my horror, I saw 15 times of unforgiveness. [I don’t know if there is a word like unforgiveness but I will be using this word a lot in this write up and I hope you understand what it means].

Let me describe in detail the picture of the 15 times of unforgiveness. I could see envy and jealously building up. I could see them quarrelling over who should get the bigger meat. I could see them fighting over rights and privileges. I could see them sowing seeds of hate because of parents’ favoritism. I could see them competing against each other rather than celebrating their differences and pursuing their separate goals in life. I could see them swearing before God and man that they will never speak to each other again because one had said a hurtful word to the other. I could see them plotting the death of the other (mere words and thoughts) because they were fighting over the same men!

I started this example with sisters and females, but that is not the start and finish of unforgiveness. The bible says “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city” [Proverbs 18:19]. It happens between brothers. It happens between parents and children. It happens between friends. It happens between acquaintances. It happens between colleagues. Something or some things would have happened to cause the resolve never to forgive the other. Then life goes on, not knowing we have hardened a part of our heart.

You might say, “Rita, you don’t know how much my mother abused me. Why should I forgive her?” or you might say, “That girl stole the only man I love and since then my life has never been the same!” (The way you want your life to be depends on you – your word and your choices. Don’t let Bishop T.D. Jakes hear you are still mourning that guy after 5 years…).You might say, “My father kicked my mom and all 8 of us children out of his house. Life has been difficult since then. I cannot forgive him”. My dear, I want you to know that forgiveness is a choice. You don’t have to feel like it. Joseph forgave his brothers [Genesis 50:15-21]. We can too.

Jesus Christ instructs us to love everyone, friends, brothers and enemies alike [Matthew 5: 43-48]. Peter reminds us that above all, we should love each other deeply, for love covers a multitude of sin [1 Peter 4:8]. How then can we say we love someone without forgiving the person? When Jesus Christ was teaching us how to pray, HE mentioned “And forgive us our sins, as we forgive EVERYONE who is indebted to us” [Luke 11:4]. I don’t know about you but for me, I cannot count how many times I have asked God to forgive me. And HE even forgives me for some things I do out of ignorance. HE forgives, forgets, and then adds blessings upon us. All HE asks of us is to forgive in the true sense of the word. He is not as interested in our gifts, offerings and acts of service as HE is in our forgiveness that is why HE said “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” [Mark 11:25]. In Matthew 5:23-24 HE said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you; leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Put yourself in HIS shoes. 2 of your children just had a quarrel and one is refusing to forgive the other. That one comes to you, begins to make a request and is also asking for forgiveness. Won’t you, with your earthly wisdom, ask that child to go and forgive his sibling?

I have learnt that the best way to be forgiving is to pray for the person I need to forgive (not praying curses but praying good prayer). This helps to soften my heart towards the person. I am still working on this area of my life with the indispensable help of the Word of God.

Is there anyone you need to forgive? Is there anyone that has something against you? Who is it so close yet your heart is like stone towards the person? Before you make your request to God, before you give your gifts to HIM, go and be reconciled with your brother. Even if he is far away, take the step of forgiveness in your heart.
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you [Ephesians 4:31-32].

Have a blessed day as you walk in the freedom of forgiveness in your heart.

2 comments:

aida said...

hi, want to say thank u for taking out time to bless me and alot of other ppl with all ur poems and write-ups.Glad i can finally share something of value with my friends. keep it up. God sees u and He is not unjust to forget ur labour of love.

Ikem said...

Rita,
This is really wonderful. I think you'll easily pass for a female preacher (lol). The issue of forgiveness is something Christians should not toy with. Forgiveness springs from a heart rich in love. NOBODY can claim a godly life without love and forgiveness.

..."a wonderful piece"
keep it up