Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, knew the power of forgiveness.
Once, a friend brought up a cruel deed someone had done to her. Barton claimed she did not remember the deed done. Insistent, her friend exclaimed, “Don’t you remember the wrong that was done to you?”
“No,” Barton answered, “I distinctly remember forgetting that.”
This story blesses my spirit. I have seen the power of forgiveness, and I have also seen the power of unforgiveness. Forgiveness enables us to walk in the peace, joy, and fullness God has for us. Unforgiveness breeds misery, bitterness, and a deadness of spirit—a constant stab of a knife whenever the incident is considered. In fact, one’s entire life is characterized by a continual stabbing. Daily or weekly, she feels the stab, the pain, the shame, the misery, the offense.
Those who choose to forgive the cruelty of others and all the wrongs they have suffered at the hands of humans, are set free from the bondage and misery those offenses have the potential to breed in one’s soul. With that freedom, the forgiver is enabled to experience the abundant life God has planned for him or her.
The person who does not forgive is held back from that abundant life by his own choice.
Could Clara Barton have founded the American Red Cross if she had held on to the offenses she suffered? Could Joseph have become the leader of Egypt had he lived in a constant state of resentment toward his brothers? I don’t see how.
I’ve heard it said,
Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.
Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
In the story of the unmerciful servant, Jesus characterizes unforgiveness as a self-imposed prison of constant torment (Matthew 18).
How about you? Have you forgiven that person that did that thing to you? My prayer is that you will make the choice to forgive all those who have offended you so you can experience all God has for you!
Read on for more encouragement and inspiration.