I had been a rascal, and I knew it. My jealousy had caused a huge split in our group of college-aged friends. My choices had caused a lot of pain, and now I needed to own up to my despicable behavior. The Holy Spirit had prompted my repentance. I needed to make restitution to my friend, starting with a personal apology. I did not deserve her forgiveness, but I longed for it. How I wished our friendship could go back to our days of easy comradery and fun!
Forgiveness is one of the key identifying characteristics of a Christian. No other religion has such strong, compelling admonitions or examples of forgiveness. A sinless Man choosing to bear all the pain, sorrow and sin of our human race just so we could be forgiven—that’s unheard of! And then Jesus declared that we must do the same for everyone who has sinned against us (Matt. 6:14-15, 18:35). What? Can He really mean that? Yes, He does. And He gives us the power to do so because He has already borne that pain.
To be forgiven when you know you are guilty is a wonderful thing. However, the freedom the forgiver experiences is indescribable. Being unforgiving, holding on to pain and resentment, makes people sick and keeps them sick according to the chief of surgery at the Cancer Treatment Center of America (CBN news, June 2015).
Forgiveness not only makes our physical and spiritual lives better, but it paves the way to eternal life with Jesus. No wonder Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
When our missionaries share the Good News, they are also sharing the promise of forgiveness given and received. Freedom like they have never experienced before floods through the souls of formerly unreached people and cleanses them from all unrighteousness.
Your gifts to AFM set people free! 2017 was an amazing year for AFM church planters. The Holy Spirit prompted many to begin new lives in Christ. Praise be to God! And many thanks to our supporters. If you have not yet decided to support AFM, please take action. Lives hang in the balance.
For a Christian, forgiveness is not optional. We cannot harbor unforgiveness and bitterness and still be free to fully serve Christ. For your own sake, forgive while there is still time. Forgiveness is not excusing bad deeds or pretending they did not happen. Forgiveness is not forgetting. It is giving up resentment or claim to compensation or retaliation. Let God be the defender of your rights. Be forgiven and forgive. Give others the opportunity to experience freedom!