The Incredible Power of Forgiveness
"And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart"—Matthew 18:34-35.
I recently read the fascinating book UNBROKEN: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. The book chronicles the life of former Olympic track star Louis Zamperini and a harrowing story of survival on the sea and on land as a POW in Japan. Louie’s epic story has several themes, the main one being the power of forgiveness.
By the grace of God, Louie made it through the war. However, he returned home a troubled, tortured, and psychologically damaged soul. Rarely could Louie ever sleep without his dreams turning to nightmares, reliving night after night the unspeakable torture inflicted upon him as a POW. Louie was filled with hate… and that hate was destroying his life, his wife, his family and his future.
ENTER JESUS AND HIS GRACE
When all hope seemed lost, Louie was found. God spoke to his heart at the 1949 Billy Graham Tent Revival Crusade in Los Angeles. Louie, attempting to slip out during the invitation, ended up doing an about face and came to Jesus in brokenness, repentance and faith. He received the Lord’s grace, mercy and love. He was forgiven, and his life would never be the same.
Louie came home from the crusade and promptly poured all his alcohol down the drain. He believed the truth that he was indeed a new creation in Jesus Christ… and that truth set him free.
As one who had now been so graciously forgiven, Louie understood that he must in turn forgive those who had been so unbelievably terrible to him. And when he made the choice to forgive, lo and behold, his nightmares ceased. The war was truly over for him. Hate was swallowed up by love, and the incredible power of forgiveness washed away every vestige of bitterness he had held for so long.
MAKE NO MISTAKE
Bitterness will destroy your life. It is a cancer of the soul that eats away at everything the Lord wants to do within you. The real prisoners in life are not those behind steel bars. They are those who live in the self-made prison of unforgiveness.
Listen, I don’t know what abuses and atrocities you have experienced in life, but God does. He knows, and He cares… and He calls you to forgive so you can truly live.
Corrie ten Boom, the godly saint who survived the horrors of a Nazi death camp, astutely commented that unless her fellow survivors made the choice to forgive their brutal captors, they would forever be incarcerated in the prison of bitterness and hate.
DOING BUSINESS WITH GOD AND OTHERS
Have you received God’s forgiveness so graciously and freely offered to you through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, Jesus? If not, do what Louie Zamperini did in 1949. Repent and receive Christ as Savior and Lord.
Are you holding a grudge? Are there people in your life who have wounded you… and you refuse to let it go? You are only hurting yourself. You hold the key that unlocks the prison door of bitterness. By faith and God’s grace, insert the key. Forgive those offenders. Leave the dungeon of death and enter in to the wonderful world of forgiveness. You’ll be so glad you did.