The Power of Forgiveness

“Anyone you forgive, I also forgive.  And what I have forgiven, if there was anything to forgive, I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us.  For we are not unaware of his schemes.”  2 Corinthians 2:10-11.

The Apostle was no stranger to spiritual warfare, and here he uses it in connection with forgiveness.  He links our willingness to forgive (or not) with Satan’s schemes.  He would later write that we should forgive others “as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).  If we fail to forgive others, why should God forgive us?

What are some things/people we may need to forgive?
        A brother or sister who offended us
        Someone who took unfair advantage of us
        A person who stepped all over us just to get ahead
        A friend who betrayed us
        A family member who injured us
        A boss who passed us over for promotion (maybe rightly so)
        A childhood friend who took unfair advantage of us

Really the list goes on and on because we all can think of ways people have “did us in.”  But what if we turned the tables?  Have I offended other people?  Have I not always been the best son, daughter, friend, or co-worker? Sometimes God has to show us what He’s forgiven in us before we can show mercy to others.  Well, God has forgiven much, and we should extend that same spirit to others.  Luis Palau writes about the following story:

"Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, was reminded one day of a vicious deed that someone had done to her years before.  But she acted as if she had never even heard of the incident.  "Don't you remember it?" her friend asked.  "No," came Barton's reply, "I distinctly remember forgetting it."

What a powerful statement coming from a Christian who knew she had been forgiven by God.

What happens when we fail to forgive?  Paul indicates in the verse above of failure to forgive provides Satan with an advantage.  The evil one seems to operate best in an environment where people refuse to forgive and hold grudges. He sees the hatred and mistrust, and then stirs it up afresh thus taking our peace away.  When we set out to hurt someone because of what they did, we only hurt ourselves.

Ask God to give you the strength to forgive others, and if you think you cannot forgive, remember that God has forgiven you.

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