My conversation with the woman had turned from the care of our Maltese poodle to her ex-husband and her estranged mother. “I can’t forgive my mother; she abused me terribly. And my husband abandoned me when I was ill.” Although she longed to be free of the two people who had left her among the walking wounded, she couldn’t forgive them and so bitterness clung to her like a rotting stench—seeping through her pained words and weary eyes.
One of the reasons we’re reluctant to forgive those who have wronged us is that we feel by doing so we somehow justify their actions. Rather than take revenge or hold on to bitterness, however, Scripture reveals that we’re to leave room for God’s justice (Romans 12:19-20).
As an aging apostle, Paul wrote from prison to his friend Philemon, a leader of the church at Colossae (Philemon 1:1,4). Paul asked him to forgive Onesimus, Philemon’s slave, who had grieved him before becoming a believer in Jesus while in prison with the apostle (Philemon 1:10-12). Paul knew the powerful effects of forgiveness and reconciliation and encouraged Philemon to reconcile with Onesimus—a slave (Philemon 1:10). The apostle asked his friend to set the man free (Philemon 1:15-16). Paul acknowledged that Philemon had always shown love and kindness to God’s people, and he asked him to “put into action the generosity that comes from your faith” as he understood and experienced “all the good things [he had] in Christ” (Philemon 1:6).
We’ve been forgiven by God and reconciled with Him through Jesus. And as Paul wrote, we’re now called to forgive and reconcile with others by His power (2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Ephesians 1:7, 4:32). God alone can help us to set them free.
What is “clinging to you” today because of unforgiveness? Consider what Jesus has done in your life and prayerfully consider what He’s calling you to do in your difficult relationships.
Taken from “Our Daily Journey”