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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The stronghold of unforgiveness

Jesus says it plainly:  If we want forgiveness from God - we must forgive.
Easy to say, hard to do.
Grudges die hard.
Time does not heal all wounds.
Time can only make the wounds more ingrained in our spirit.
Here's what I know:  Even if I have suffered a horrible, terrible injustice, I am still responsible for my response to that cruelty in my life.
Why?  Because unforgiveness keeps me bound.  It is the strongest of strongholds in the life of a Christian.
And, to be candid with you, it is at the core of most of the issues that Christians are struggling with - or minimally, at the core of their "dry season" or stagnation in their walk with God.
During the Nazi occupation of Holland, Corrie Ten Boom and her family were sent to a concentration camp for hiding Jews in their home.  (She was Dutch).
She soon came to hate the guard who mocked and sneered at their naked bodies as they were taken to the showers.  His leering face seemed forever seared into her memory.
Her sister died in the camp, but Corrie survived and vowed never to return to Germany.
However, years later, she returned for a speaking engagement, and gave a talk on what?  You guessed it - forgiveness.
To her dismay and horror, there was the same guard sitting in the audience. 
He could have never recognized Corrie as one of his emaciated, sick and shorn prisoners.  His radiant expression even suggested that he had since been converted.
After the talk, the smiling man extended his hand and said, "Ah, dear sister Corrie, isn't it wonderful how God forgives?"
Corrie only felt hated and anger toward this man who had wronged her family - and her.
Yet, at the same time, the Holy Spirit spoke to her and told her to stick out her hand.
She said, "It took all of the years that I had quietly obeyed God in obscurity to do the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.
I put out my hand. 
It was only after my simple act of obedience that I felt something almost like warm oil being poured over me.  And with it came the unmistakable message:  "Well done, Corrie, that's how my children behave - and the hate and bitterness in my heart was absorbed and gone."
Two lessons:
If bitterness lingers in your heart, continue to repent of it daily and release to God's justice anyone who has offended you.
Forgiveness doesn't make the other person right - forgiveness sets you free.
Just a thought for a Wednesday.


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