Step Five in Forgiving Others: Act
Letting go of past hurts can be difficult.
Yet in forgiving others, the time comes to act: Making a decision to obey Christ. Putting all our anger and resentment behind us. Forgiving the offender. Leaving the offense in the past.
Forgiveness is not based upon whether the person deserves forgiveness. It is based on what Christ has done to forgive us. “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).
Following the American Civil War, the Southern general Robert E. Lee was visiting in Kentucky where one lady showed him the remains of what had been an enormous, old tree. This tree stood directly in front of her house.
She bitterly cried to General Lee of how its limbs and trunk had been shattered by Northern army artillery fire. Having poured out her anguish, she looked to the old soldier for a condemnation of the North.
Following a brief silence, Lee responded, “Cut it down, my dear madam, and forget it.”
Better to forgive the injustices of the past than to allow them to take root in the present and add bitterness to our future.
Memory is wonderful when it recalls better days and happy moments. Yet forgetfulness is equally wonderful when it allows us to let go of the painful past.
Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, was reminded one day of a hurtful action that someone had done to her years before. But she acted as though she had never even heard of the incident.
Her friend asked her, “Don’t you remember it?” Clara replied, “No, I distinctly remember forgetting it.”
We let go of our past hurt. We cut it down and forget it. We distinctly remember forgetting it.
We do not allow ourselves to dwell on the pains of the past. We surrender our painful memories and experiences to God, and with a decisive act of our wills, we forgive and get on with our lives with Christ. We cannot control the reactions of others, but we can control our own.
Action step: Put your anger and resentment behind you. Forgive, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).
~ Pastor Dave