Throughout my life, I have been very blessed by reading short devotions, stories and lessons. Deep devotions like Oswald Chambers ‘My Utmost for His Highest’. Inspirational stories like those found in Guidepost Magazine. Nourishing kernels of truth like the Bible based lessons of ‘Daily Bread’. These little ‘nuggets’ (in writing, that means a story of less than 600 words) are often used by God to get me through my day or speak truth to my soul or provide the very answer I need to a problem I face. Well, without trying to compare or imitate, it is my desire to share a few words each week that might do the same for you. Sort, personal, maybe instructional—but at least some thoughts that are ‘tasty’ and worthy of ‘chewing on’. Here goes…
The prison cell was locked and the keys hung on the jailer’s belt. Now, surely, the jailer could rest since he had each offender securely ‘put away’. But as he trudged from the cell and up the stairs to the living quarters, the jangling of keys on his waistband constantly reminded him that he was responsible for the ones he had imprisoned. Would the prisoners try to escape? If the prisoners did escape, was not the jailer and his family in mortal danger of retaliation? Was he sure he had locked each cell tight? Did the prisoners have friends who might try to engineer a ‘breakout’? These and many other thoughts flooded the jailer’s mind. As he sank into his easy chair, he began to realize a truth: The one who holds the keys to the prison cell is more the prisoner than the one inside the cell.
Are you a jailer? Well, yes you are– if there are those you have not ‘forgiven’. You may ‘hold the keys’ but the burden of ‘keeping people locked up’ is a tiring and taxing task. It takes a lot of time and energy making sure the people who have ‘done you wrong’— some so long ago you don’t remember why— stay locked up and punished for their crime.
Is this story making any sense? Satan uses unforgiveness as a chain to wrap around our lives, our families and our churches. To use Jeff Foxworthy’s famous ’You might be a Redneck If... routine, check the following… see if any fit YOU:
You might be holding on to unforgiveness…
*If have you ever changed aisles at the grocery store simply because you saw this certain person, you might have unforgiveness.
*If you have ever let loose a sinister snicker when told of the bad misfortune of someone who is on your ‘list’, you might have unforgiveness
*If you love to forget the good but broadcast the ‘gossip’ about someone, you might have unforgiveness.
*If you sit in a certain place at church in order to avoid sitting near ‘so and so’, you might have unforgiveness.
*If, at the mention of so and so’s name, a spirit of anger rises within you, your stomach starts to turn, your neck muscles tighten, and your jaw gets rigid then you might have unforgiveness.
Get the picture… If so, then who’s really the prisoner here?
Your unwillingness to forgive is harming YOU. Emotionally, spiritually and probably physically. Forgiving is so that YOU can get better and experience peace and relief— not the offender. It doesn’t matter if the other party deserves or receives your ‘forgiveness’. The issue of forgiveness is between YOU and God, not the offender. And I know it’s hard. It is a choice and a process. But do it! Forgive! For God’s sake… and for yours!