A couple of days ago a friend of mind posted a video link on his Facebook account that made me think about the topic of forgiveness in a fresh light. This video featured a man singing a song about God’s love (I assume for a music video he was shooting) and a homeless man approached him and began singing with him. While the homeless man did not know the words, he did grasp the topic of God’s love, and demonstrate his understand of the love of God for everyone. As I watched the two men sing praises to their Heavenly Father, I began thinking about the topics of acceptance and forgiveness.
It has been my experience that individuals who are homeless or down on their luck see God in a new perspective, which is different than many other people see Him. These “struggling” individuals see the best in people regardless of gender, age, or race. They are able to look past the superficial barriers that exist in the world today and look to the heart of people just as Jesus did. They are willing to be loving and accepting towards anyone they meet, not for a handout but rather to share the love that they have in their hearts, which in many cases is all they have.
As I started thinking about acceptance, I started contemplating forgiveness as well. I began to see the love in this man’s heart through a brief video and wondered if people would see that type of love in my life. The sad reality is that in the pit of my stomach I knew they would not. Rather than seeing love, they would see bitterness, resentment, or even hatred. In order to attempt to remedy this situation, I did something that I was challenged to do a few weeks ago by a dear pastor friend of mine. I chose to first ask God to give me the power and strength to forgive certain individuals that I felt had “wronged” me in certain ways. As I prayed through these situations, I was reminded of the hurt and pain that accompanied each situation, which led to my bitter attitude. After praying for the strength to forgive these individuals, I decided to take the next step, which was to send them an email explaining the fact that I had forgiven them, and hoped they would do the same. These emails were one of the most challenging things that I have ever done in my life; however, the “freeing” feeling that came after I hit the send button on the email was great. My desire during this upcoming year is to be more open and accepting of others as Jesus Christ is towards me. While I have not yet received any responses and may not, the fact is that I feel that in the eyes of Christ I have extended true forgiveness, which frees me from the bondage of these situations that I have carried for years.
After thinking about this topic and wrestling through it, are there people in your life that you need to forgive? Are there wounds on your heart that seem to cut to the core of who you are as a person, leaving you bitter, angry, or filled with rage? My challenge to you is to seek God’s counsel on extending forgiveness during these situations and to these individuals. Are you up for the challenge?