Are you holding on to an offense and withholding forgiveness from anyone?
A few years ago, at the beginning of a school year, I received a call early in the morning from my daughter’s teacher who was coordinating chapels for the school. She confided that she had lost her chapel speaker for the first four weeks of the school year and asked if I could teach one of the sessions. When I inquired what she wanted me to talk about, she replied, “Anything about Jesus.” I said, “Praise the Lord.”
I went on with my workout, continuing to think about the worksheet I was preparing for my upcoming radio broadcast. The topic was “The Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor.” I am bald, and I am slow. Consequently, it took me a while to realize that I could teach on this parable at the school’s chapel.
A couple of days later, I was standing in front of a group of elementary school students challenging them to “forgiveness,” which means “to let go.” I asked them to examine their hearts for any white knuckling, or holding on, of unforgiveness, which creates a prison around us. With the music playing, heads bowed, eyes closed, and palms up, an electric impulse of conviction ran up my spine.
I am sensitive, and my wife is from Waterloo. Consequently, her occasional Waterloo tone of voice hurts my feelings. I realized right there in the chapel that I had been teaching about not withholding forgiveness, while at that very same time, I had been withholding forgiveness from my spouse. I rushed home that morning, stood in front of the elliptical machine while she was exercising, and fell on my knees pleading for forgiveness. She accepted.
This incident is just a husband and wife thing. However, it serves as a model of how we condemn others who have unrestored hearts. We are called to look into the eyes of even the unrestored and authentically say with our hearts and our mouths, “Please for give me,” and “I forgive.”
The Apostle Paul taught: “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).
When we let go, we let God use us to restore others.