Drew remembered the feeling in the pit of his stomach every time he thought about it. A coworker, someone he considered a close friend, had taken credit for his idea and was reaping the benefits at work.
Drew soon noticed that his anger had little effect on his coworker but a big effect on him. A doctor’s visit confirmed Drew’s suspicion. His anger was causing significant health problems. When the doctor asked him if he was under any unusual stress, he had only one explanation.
James 5:16 came to his mind. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
Drew absolutely knew that he was powerless to repay God for the sins he’d committed. He finally realized that it was unfair for him to refuse to forgive others. The desire to extend the gift of grace to his coworker began to fill his heart.
He no longer wanted to harbor anger and disappointment. While he considered the friendship irreparably harmed, he didn’t want to dwell on the hurt he felt. The only way past this situation was to let it go. By an act of his will, Drew decided to forgive. Mentally, he bundled up all his hostile feelings and surrendered them to Christ. His identity was now solidly based upon who he was in Christ, and he soon felt peace in his heart.
A prominent Christian medical doctor and professor told me this story of his own life.
A coworker gave him a “dirty deal.” Thereafter, whenever he would see that man crossing the campus, he would make a quick detour to avoid him. This went on for months. Every time his “enemy” came up in any conversation, he would get in a little “dig.”
He was getting tired of this ongoing warfare. His feelings frightened him, and the Lord spoke clearly: “Can’t you see what this is doing to you?” How could he make peace with someone who didn’t want anything to do with him?
Through the awesome power of God, the men were able to resolve their issues and become good friends.
He decided to go to his colleague’s office to apologize and to ask for forgiveness. I can imagine the two of them kneeling beside each other, talking to their Father in heaven.
Through the awesome power of God, the men were able to resolve their issues and become good friends. Their initial decision to forgive was followed by the faith walk of forgiveness.
“People shouldn’t have the power to make or break our day depending on how they treat us,” writes North American evangelist Charles F. Stanley. “When we decide to forgive as an act of the will, we absolve others of any responsibility to meet our needs. Forgiveness is genuine when we don’t feel the way we used to when we run into those who offended us. Harsh feelings will be replaced with feelings of concern, pity, empathy, but not resentment. We might not forget the offense, but the old negative feelings aren’t there. Also, we’ll find it easier to accept them without feeling the need to change them. It is our responsibility to let go of the pressure and weight of an unforgiving attitude. Remember, the other person doesn’t have to apologize or change for you to find freedom.”*
Jesus taught His disciples, “If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matt. 6:14, 15).
The apostle Peter once asked Jesus how many times he should forgive someone. Jesus answered by saying: “It’s not the number of times that’s important, but your attitude. If your attitude is right, you’ll forgive someone 70 times if you have to” (see Matt. 18:21, 22).
The most beautiful expression of a loving and forgiving heart was Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, hanging on the cross of Calvary. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
To such a wise Savior be glory, majesty, dominion, and power, both now and forevermore. Amen. n
* The Gift of Forgiveness, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1991.