Did you know that unforgiveness and holding on to anger increase your chances of a heart attack five fold? It also increases your risk of cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other diseases. Not only that, but our emotional health is at risk too. Anxiety and depression go hand in hand with unforgiveness, it’s medically proven.
But love on the other hand brings forth healing, peace and joy.
Mark and I were at a friend house and their 4 year old little girl wanted to go swimming. Much to our surprise she proceeded to strip naked right there on the porch. She had no shame whatsoever! I looked at her and said, ‘Emma, what are you doing?’
She responded bluntly, ‘I’m putting on my bathing suit!’ As if to say, 'duh, I can’t swim in my blue jeans!'
I thought about this story recently when I was reading Colossians 3. It talks about stripping off our old evil nature and all those old attitudes, then clothing yourself with a brand new nature and new attitudes. Those attitudes include mercy, patience and humility.
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
I believe that humility is the key that opens the door to forgiving others. It was complete humility that Jesus modeled for us when He went to the cross, and that was why His response to their hatred was love. With humility comes love.
So what does all that have to do with Emma’s lack of modesty? Well, we need to strip off our old sinful ways so that we can put on God’s clothing of love- because you can’t swim in God’s river with the heavy weight of sin and unforgiveness. We need to take it off and put on the proper attire so that we can ‘swim’ in all that God has for our future.
There is freedom in forgiveness!
13 You must make allowance for each other's faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love.
The Bible says that we should bless those who curse us. One way to do that is to pray for our enemies. I don’t mean just saying a nice little, ‘God bless them’ prayer while teeth are clenched. We all know that is not love. The prayer that I’m talking about is the kind that says, ‘I pray that they would be blessed in all they do, that they would come to know You more intimately, that they would have favor in their lives with all men.’ Basically, praying for them like you would pray for your loved ones. Speak blessings over their family.
If you are faithful to do this, your heart will start to change. You will begin to have compassion for them and see them as God does.
Then you will feel the freedom of forgiveness!