Forgiveness, the Way to Freedom
- by Henri Nouwen
To forgive another person from the heart is an act of liberation. We set that person free from the negative bonds that exist between us. We say, "I no longer hold your offense against you" But there is more. We also free ourselves from the burden of being the "offended one."
As long as we do not forgive those who have wounded us, we carry them with us or, worse, pull them as a heavy load. The great temptation is to cling in anger to our enemies and then define ourselves as being offended and wounded by them. Forgiveness, therefore, liberates not only the other but also ourselves. It is the way to the freedom of the children of God.
In another devotional article:
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2
by Os HillmanWednesday, January 28 2009
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
The murderer was condemned to life in prison. Then one day something amazing happened. The guard came and opened the jail cell. "You are free to go. Someone else is taking your place," said the guard. "How can this be? I am still guilty!" said the prisoner. "Your debt has been paid. You are free to leave," said the guard once more. The prisoner decided not to leave. "I cannot allow another to pay my debt," said the prisoner. Because of his pride he chose to remain in bondage.
Imagine the guilt Peter must have felt when he betrayed the Son of God three times by saying he never knew him. Imagine what he must have felt the moment he reunited with Him after the resurrection.
The hardest person to forgive sometimes is ourselves. It is especially hard for high achievers to forgive themselves. We think we are above such failure. However, the Bible says we all sin and it is impossible to remedy that sin by ourselves.
"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives?" (1 John 1:8,10). The question is not whether we will sin, the question is what we will do when we do sin.
There is only one thing for us to do. Go to the cross. Jesus paid for that sin by dying on the cross. Picture yourself writing your sin on a white piece of paper, then pinning it to the cross. Now, leave it there. The cross is for sinners. When Jesus looks at you, He no longer sees your sin. He cannot see the sin because He can only see the cross.
When you come to Jesus with your sin, there is nothing more you can do besides confessing and renouncing your sin. Sometimes it may require restitution with others. However, once you confess your sin and ask forgiveness, it is no longer on the ledger of debts.
Why not choose to walk free. The cell has been opened.