The Blessings of Forgiveness
Marybeth Whalen

"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." Matthew 6:14 (NIV)

I sat listening to my Bible study leader as she took us through our lesson in Genesis. I should have been paying attention but my thoughts kept drifting back to hurtful words and bad memories. It had been weeks since I had spoken to the person who had said those hurtful things, but the pain was still fresh.

I wanted to move on, but I didn't know how. I was caught and I could not get free. The hurt replayed in my mind over and over, a never ending film-loop of words and actions.

That day in Bible study we covered the story of Joseph. I will never forget as we got to the place where his brothers cowered in front of him after realizing who he was…and what they had done (Genesis 50:18). In that moment I will admit that in my humanness, I wanted Joseph to hurt them as much as he had been hurt. At the very least, I wanted him to turn them away as they deserved. Even though I knew the story, I still hoped for a different ending.

And yet, the ending went on just as it had before. Joseph offered his brothers—the brothers that had sold him as a slave—forgiveness. He reached out to them and restored them to a place they didn't deserve. He didn't do it because of them. He did it because of God. He knew what it meant to be forgiven, and he knew the power in extending forgiveness to someone else. I will never forget that moment when God spoke to my heart: "You need to forgive as Joseph forgave."

I will confess I didn't want to offer my forgiveness. God showed me that I was hanging onto my unforgiveness like a burlap security blanket. It was time to offer my forgiveness—not because the person had earned it or deserved it, but because God had asked me to forgive out of simple obedience to Him. Just as He had forgiven me. It was, He reminded me, the least I could do.

In my novel, The Mailbox, the main character Lindsey has several people she must forgive during the course of the story. She learns that there is freedom and peace that is released at the moment we forgive, which makes her eager to forgive even more. This happened to me as well. I heard once that unforgiveness is like eating poison while waiting for the other person to die. Better to walk in the freedom of simply doing what God has asked and let Him take care of the rest. God required me to sacrifice my pride in exchange for the blessing of peace in that relationship. It was definitely worth it and I would do it all over again.

Dear Lord, help me extend forgiveness to those who have hurt me, even when I don't feel that they deserve it. The truth is, I didn't deserve Your forgiveness. Thank You for forgiving me and please help me forgive others as freely as You do. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit She Reads for an exciting giveaway today – a copy of Marybeth’s new novel The Mailbox and an ocean-scented candle.

The Mailbox by Marybeth Whalen

The Friends We Keep: A Woman's Quest for the Soul of Friendship by Sarah Zacharias Davis

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Receive more free encouragement with Forgiveness is Like Spinach

Application Steps:
Is there someone you need to forgive? Spend time journaling about what's holding you back, then pray and ask God's help in extending forgiveness to that person.

Why is unforgiveness like eating poison while waiting for the other person to die? Have you ever experienced this personally or seen it with someone else?

Power Verses:
Luke 11:4a, "Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us." (NIV)

Mark 11:25, "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." (NIV)

© 2010 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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Blogger Emily Kane said...

It seems like every devotion I have these days and every verse I read is focusing on forgiveness - God couldn't be more clear. I must forgive my parents for things that happened my childhood that I have just recently allowed myself to face head on. Acknowledging these things has brought anger, hurt and rage into my heart - it dosen't feel good at all. Although I am proud of myself for facing these buried issues head on, I am not proud of the way it has made me feel. The hardest part about forgiving them is the fact that I don't have any attachment to them or any desire for a relationship with them - we have pretendedy entire life to b one big happy family and I just can't put on the show anymore.

I am making a decision right now - I am forgiving my parents. God, I don't have the desire or strength for anything else where they are concerned but as you have forgiven me, I forgive them. Show me where to go from here. AMEN

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i fellowship at the same church as my ex-boyfriend and his new girl friend.

i try my very best to be the bigger person and be nice even when it hurts like crazy. You ladies know what churches are like, everyone watching you too see how you handling it...

We both served on the youth committee together. He approached me to say that he thinks there should be space between us so he stepped down from the youth commitee. i admit that i was hurt because he left me with alot of responsibility and i hold nothing against him in my heart and i know that the youth ministry belongs to jesus and no matter what the devil tries he will not succeed....

The thing is, how do you treat someone who says they want to have nothing to do with you and yet you fellowship at the same church?????

Please pray for me... i need Jesus to do his thing in ME ASAP !!!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous,
This is just a test. Continue to do the right thing and stay in God's will and all will work for your good. That is a promise from God. :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Praising God for His forgiveness toward me. God just wants me to be willing to forgive and He will do the rest. But it is a one step at a time thing. Moment by moment. Thank you , Lord, for doing what I cannot do in my humanity. YOU have changed me, YOU have brought healing and this takes time. Thank YOU for the healing comfort of YOUR love to me.

Blogger Marybeth Whalen said...

Emily, wow! I love that you are choosing to forgive and I will pray for God to give you the strength to walk in that forgiveness and display His grace.

Anonymous, ugh. I hate those kinds of situations. Awkward, hurtful, emotional. I will pray for your ability to look past him and his new girlfriend and set your sights on the excellent plans God has for you!! Jer 29:11 comes to mind... :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been trying to forgive someone for a long time, and many times I have brought it to the Lord, confessed the forgiveness, feel peace for a short while and then it comes back. Reading your devotion today was like getting hit with a brick in the head! God showed me I was confessing forgiveness with my mouth, and a little with my heart, but all the while expecting the other person to change their behavior toward me. It's easier to forgive when the offense is over and most likely won't happen again. But what if the person continues to offend you? What if the behavior never changes. I choose to forgive in spite of what the other person may do in the future. I choose walk in the peace of forgiveness knowing my God will bless me and protect me today and every day in the future. If my God is for me, who can be against me?? Thank you for this devotion! Susan

Blogger Nancy M. said...

There has to be a difference between forgiveness & allowing a hurtful person back into your life. My dh & I are conflicted on this. He thinks his son should let his wife & mother of his children back (like the prodigal son) after totally abandoning them & having a r'ship w/ another person. I think he should forgive, yes, but move on. We are in much prayer about this. I love the story of Joseph & claimed Gen 50:20 in my own life a year ago. I know that whatever happens, God is in control & will redeem this situation, but forgiveness is not permission to repeat the behaviour nor is it necessarily allowing an offending party back into your life ... is it?
I would be very interested in hearing P31's thoughts on this... What does forgiveness look like??

Blogger Marybeth Whalen said...

Susan, you are welcome! You are right on with your choice to just forgive and move forward, not dwelling on her behavior but just on God's rich love towards you... and her. Sometimes when I need to forgive someone, I ask God to help me see that person as He does. He is always faithful to do so. And the vision He gives me fills me with supernatural love for that person.

Blogger Patty Coleman said...

I have basically the same issue as Nancy M...after you forgive are you still supposed to let the person back into your life, knowing full well you and your family will be hurt repeatedly. Forgiveness is fine with me; however, protecting my family is also an issue. Any help on this matter?

Blogger Laurie Wallin said...

@Patty and Anonymous - I so resonate with the ache in the spirit about how to forgive when the offenses keep coming. Mostly we need to forgive and set boundaries so that the person doesn't have access to hurt us repeatedly. But for me, my two bipolar daughters are, well, not so much people I can limit my exposure to! I call the forgiveness process with them "in-flight repair," and it can be so wearying at times.... but God promises that when we turn to Him, He will strengthen us for the battle. Hang in there as you continue to ask these tough questions. May the Lord give you great grace and wisdom!!!

And if you want a humorous take on the forgiveness issue, I just wrote a post on this last week too... must be in the air!

-Laurie (Title: "Down Girl")

Anonymous Kristine said...

I just grabbed your button. Thank you! (c:

Blogger T-Reese said...

My God! Thank you for this devotion. It seems as if God continues to put me in a place where I continue to get hurt by the same person and then God tells me forgive! I'm like, WHAT? I know it's a hard lesson to learn but I am daily tackling this lesson in hopes that I can one day pass it for good. Thank you so much for the reminder that I too, didn't deserve to be forgiven but of the unfailing love of God my father, he offered it and I must offer the same to others.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I too have to agree that forgiveness is an issue I keep seeing mentioned. Taking offense from actions others take against us is something the breeds MUCH hate and discontent. How much better would the world be if we could all learn to forgive as God forgives us? I am working on tranlating the wish to forgive to actually feeling the forgiveness. This seems to be my issue. I WANT to forgive, just have not yet been able to FEEL the forgiveness. I am working on it and thank you all for your insights here, they are much needed. I pray that all of you are successful at forgiveness now and in the future.

I am currently completing a devotional called The Bait of Satan and it is about learning not to be offended, which I think will lead to less forgiveness. I would suggest it to any who are working on this issue.

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