Learning the Art of Forgiveness
"Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us" (Luke 11:4).
"I'm sorry for speaking to you harshly last night," I said. Then the Holy Spirit reminded me to add the second and most important part of my admission. "Will you forgive me?" Without this request we have only partially repented of our sin. It is important to humble ourselves before those we sin against. This is repentance. If we only say we are sorry we are only stating remorse for our actions.
Jesus modeled this in the Lords Prayer: "Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us" (Luke 11:4). When I owned my advertising agency, I once filed a lawsuit against a client who refused to pay a $140,000 bill. However, the Lord instructed me that because I had also sinned in the situation, I was to drop the suit. My next move was to talk to my former client. I tried phoning him, but he wouldn't return my calls. Finally, I reached his secretary and said, "I want you to take this message down and give it to your boss, word for word - no changes: 'I have sinned against you. I know that I don't deserve your forgiveness, but I ask your forgiveness for filing the lawsuit against you. You are no longer obligated to pay the balance you owe me if you don't feel you owe it.'"
I could hear the secretary begin to cry on the other end of the line. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. About an hour later, my former client called. We hadn't spoken for six months. We reconciled the relationship.
The next few years were incredibly difficult because of the financial setback I suffered, but God provided for my needs. Looking back, I realize that this was my Judas Test. I passed the test when I let go of my resentment and asked to be forgiven, and God was glorified in the situation.
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