(Today's post by Marc Cannon)
On December 10, 1998 I did something stupid. I got behind the wheel of my truck after a long night of partying with my girlfriend, my roommate and another friend. I got stopped for speeding and ultimately was arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence. This event had a drastic and lasting impact on my life. The immediate consequences were devastating to me. I had fines, community service, jail time; I quit school and ultimately lead to me losing my job. Not only did I hurt members of my family through this but it caused me to shame myself and grew into severe depression. This was something I held onto for years…Over a decade. When I say hold onto, I mean I woke up everyday with regret about it. My regret turned into an almost loathe for the man I was. It took me 12 years to even think about forgiving myself for one stupid moment in time. The domino effect was immense for me.
In chapter 18 Jesus’ words consume 30 of the 35 verses printed in my Bible. He talks about the dangers of sin, how much God loves us, how to react if a brother sins against us, and the consequences of un–forgiveness.
I have always been forgiving of those who have done me wrong. It’s just in my nature and I honestly do not want to be imprisoned by a hurt someone else caused me. So I forgive them. I truly can’t remember a grudge that I’ve held against someone…Not one. The parable Jesus uses to talk about forgiveness is clear: If you do not forgive, you’re imprisoned. It’s something I’ve seen in my friend’s lives, in my family’s lives and from coworkers. If you cannot forgive someone, no matter the grievance, you’re going to fall victim to consumption of un–forgiveness. Jesus is telling us here that forgiveness is freedom. You don’t have to like the offense, but let it go and forgive that person. Not just once, but every time they offend you; EVERY TIME. That’s where freedom is found.
But, what about yourself, what about forgiving yourself? I spent years imprisoned in my own mind for something I did to myself. No one poured booze into me; no one sat me in the seat of my truck and told me to drive. I woke up every morning and condemned myself for things I’d done to myself. Why am I so quick to forgive others when I won’t forgive myself? Through my walk with Jesus I’ve learned that forgiveness is for everyone…Including forgiving yourself. I can tell you that there has never been a more freeing event in my life than finally forgiving myself for mistakes I’ve made in the past.
Once I realized that Jesus had not condemned me…then I didn’t need to condemn myself.
Is there a grievance in your life that needs to be forgiven?
Today I pray that if you have un-forgiveness in your heart, for someone else or even yourself, that you forgive. I pray that you’re set free from the prison that holding a grudge can claim on your life.
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. (1 John 1:9 NLT)
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7 NLT)
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32 NLT)