Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
Dr. Chuck Lynch once described a counseling patient named Amber. She was a young woman who, starting when she was five years old, had been sexually abused by her grandfather. The abuse went on for years until the grandfather died. Chuck explained to Amber the benefits of unconditional forgiveness. And after she came to understand that it was possible to forgive her grandfather, she wrote a letter to her dead grandfather that she called “A Gift for Grandpa.” I’ve paraphrased it here:
“Dear Grandpa, I’m writing to share with you a few changes that have taken place in my life. First, I want to tell you thanks for all you have done for me. Thank you for loving me and being my friend when there seemed to be no one else. I also want you to know that I’m on a spiritual journey, working toward inner healing with the Lord Jesus in my heart. But I am having trouble in the area of the things you did to me when I was a little girl. So to help me move on in my healing, I want to give you the gift of forgiveness. My gift of forgiveness to you is for all the violations done against me by you when I was growing up. I want to forgive and release you for violating me by using my body for your own sexual pleasure. I want to forgive and release you for the mistrust you developed in me and for training me not to let anyone be too close to me for fear of being hurt. I want to forgive and release you for making me feel ashamed when I did nothing wrong. I want to forgive and release you for setting me up to falsely blame myself for something I could not control or make stop as a little child. I want to forgive and release you for the anger you developed inside me toward you. I want to forgive and release you for the hate and fear of men that you instilled in me. I want to forgive and release you for deceiving and lying to me and for threatening me not to tell by saying I deserved it. I want to forgive and release you for shattering my dreams for a happy marriage with someone who really loves me. The most important thing I want to forgive and release you for is the distorted picture of God you gave me. I know now that it wasn’t His fault, and He was there for me all the time. Grandpa, now that I feel better about myself and can accept what happened to me, I can say I know what it means to love you through the eyes of the Lord. Amber.”
I suspect that as you read that letter God brought to your mind somebody who has hurt you deeply. It may have been through some type of abuse or another kind of wrong that was committed against you. And the person who has hurt you may be unaware of what he or she did to you–or, worse, your offender doesn’t care. Perhaps you have lost touch with that person; perhaps your offender is gone forever. Hear what God is saying: you don’t have to be that person’s prisoner any longer. God wants you to be free, and the way to experience that freedom from the wounds of the past is through unconditional forgiveness. Unconditional forgiveness is biblical, it is practical, it is beneficial, and most of all, it is possible.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Forgiving Sorry People Who Aren’t Sorry” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.