There Are 3 Important Aspects To Forgiveness

Date: February 20, 2020

Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.  Matthew 6:14-15

The night before Robert Alton Harris was executed for the brutal murder of two teenage boys, he placed a phone call to a friend who had worked with him in prison and said, “If I had only known there was forgiveness [with God], I would never have killed those two boys.”  Early in his life, wrongdoing had started the downhill slide, and once he felt that there was no forgiveness and no exit to his life of crime, one thing led to another and then another. Eventually the downward spiral culminated in the murders of two young men, which eventually sent him to the gas chamber at San Quentin.

How different his life and the lives of many other people might have been, had he only known what David cried out long ago: “But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared”(Psalm 130:4). As Harris was led to the gas chamber, he looked into the face of the father of one of the boys who had been slain and said, “I’m sorry,” but it was too late.

David’s three words are powerful psychiatry:  “There is forgiveness.”  Harris was but one of many who lived in a prison of bitterness, hatred, and anger, not knowing the power of forgiveness.

Columnist Abigail Van Buren carried a column on forgiveness and how it liberates us.  Van Buren described the response to it as “amazing.”  Among the many who told what it had meant to them personally was a woman who wrote, “I have spent at least 30 of my 42 years hating my mother, who is no longer living. She was unspeakably cruel to me all my life.  Your column isn’t long enough to print all the abuses I suffered at her hands.  After reading your column, I was able to say, ‘I forgive you, Mama.'”

A woman told of coming home on St. Valentine’s Day to find her husband of eight years in the arms of another woman, who was a family friend.  She said, “As I sat and wept, many questions arose:  `Was it my fault?  Is this the end of my marriage?  What about the children?  Can I ever forgive him?'”  Pasting the article on the door of the refrigerator where the woman would see it every morning helped her to get on with her life and to understand the great power of forgiveness.

There are three important aspects to forgiveness, and like a three-legged stool, which can’t stand without all three working equally, forgiveness involves seeking and finding God’s forgiveness, giving and receiving the forgiveness of others, and forgiving ourselves.

There isn’t enough time to tell you how deadly is the poison of bitterness and an unforgiving spirit–not to the other person, but to yourself.  Actually, bitterness hurts you far worse than the other person who is the object of your hatred.  Awaiting your moment of vengeance, bitterness and anger eat away at your body, affecting your heart, your circulation, your digestion, and, certainly, your soul.

Jesus said, “If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15).

Friend, do you understand that there is forgiveness for you with God?  Had Ray Alton Harris known that, how different would have been his life.  David was right as he said, “If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O LORD, who could stand?  But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared” (Psalm 130:3-4).  Most of the time we think we know better than we do, but if today’s commentary has pricked your conscience, yield to that inner voice of God’s Spirit and forgive or ask for forgiveness.  It’s there, and it is powerful medicine for the healing of our broken, hurt lives.

Resource reading:  Psalm 130:1-8