"In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You
can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If
you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God's part." (Matt
When we pray, we are in the very presence of our Heavenly Father. We are made aware of what is good and right. For example, if we seek for forgiveness, we realize that we, too, have a duty to forgive those who have offended us. Forgiveness cannot come through if we don't do our part. Our stubbornness keeps us from freedom, as unforgiveness is truly a bondage, a prison that is impossible for us to escape from, except through our Father's grace. Jesus illustrates this powerfully in Matthew 18:23-35.
Prayer is powerful. One word from our Father and it becomes true. However, we have some responsibilities when we pray. If we pray for peace, we are urged to bring peace to those around us as well. If we pray for love, here too, we are encouraged to show genuine love towards anyone around us. Prayer is not a one-way phenomenon; it abounds in multiple genuine relationships.
Forgiveness actually includes all of these. It shows genuine love, and it brings inner peace to those we used to hate. No better example can be found than in the following true story:
A seventy-year old woman from a South African ghetto stood up to face a murderer, the one who had killed her son and husband. What was even more shocking is that the murderer, Mr. van der Broek was a police officer. He had penetrated this woman's home years before, taken her son, shot him point-blank, and burned his body while his fellow officers were partying.
He was the same one who came back to this same home, years later, to take her husband away as well. For two years she wouldn't know what happened to him; then one day, this same police officer came back for her. He took her to her husband who had been bound and beaten and then thrown on a heap of wood near a river. Amazingly, the prisoner was still strong in his spirit, even when the police officer drenched him with gasoline and set him on fire. The last words that this poor woman heard from him were these: "Father, forgive them."
These memories had this poor woman's mind momentarily out of the court room, but the judge's words brought her back to the present: "What do you want us to do with this man? What kind of justice do you recommend?"
She looked at the condemned and was filled with compassion. "First, I would like to find the exact place where my husband was burned," she said. "I then want to gather as many of his ashes as possible so that I can give him a decent burial. Next, since my son and my husband were very close to me and we were a close family, I want for Mr. Van der Broek . . . To become my son. I would like for him to visit me twice a month, just to spend the day with me, so that I can pour out my love upon him. Finally, I want Mr van der Broek to know that I forgive him for all the wrong things he did to my family, because Jesus Christ died on a cross to forgive. That would have been the wish of my husband as well." She then had and final request: "Can someone come to me and lead me to Mr. van der Broek? I want to hug him and make him aware that he is truly forgiven."
Mr van der Broek was so astounded by what he heard that he fainted on the spot. It's then that the whole court broke out in song: "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me."
Do we still want to hang onto unforgiveness? That's not the way of real living. We were made to be free, not to be in bondage to our own emotions.
"If you forgive someone's sins, they're gone for good. If you don't forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?" (John 20:23, MSG)
Enjoy real freedom!
The Illustrator: This daily newsletter is dedicated to encouraging everyone to look towards Jesus as the source of all the solutions to our problems. It contains a daily inspirational story, a Bible verse and encouraging messages. HTML and plain text versions available.
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