Maddie eagerly rummaged through her mother’s jewelry box to find the perfect piece of jewelry. Her bright eyes sparkled as she found two strands of pearls to add to the collection around her neck. Giggling with excitement, Maddie carefully put them on over her head along with strap of her mother’s purse. Now it was time to see how she looked! Hopping off the bed Maddie happily skipped to the full-length mirror.
As she inspected her appearance, her huge smile suddenly turned to a pout. With a voice of sophistication well beyond her 5 years, she said, “Daddy, my dear, something must be done with my hair.” Hiding his smile, Maddie’s dad reached into a drawer and pulled out a brush and a tiara. “I think this is just the thing.” “Oh, yes daddy, yes!” Maddie replied as she bounded up and down, clapping her hands. Admiring her appearance wearing the tiara, Maddie suddenly began to frown at her feet. “Daddy, flip flops are not fancy.” “No, they aren’t,” said her daddy. “What should we do?” Maddie ran to her mother’s closet and picked out a pair of her high heels, “These, daddy, these!” Jumping onto the bed, she slipped into the shoes. Maddie tried to keep them on, but over and over again they kept sliding off. Finally, with her daddy’s assistance she stood wearing the high heels. Then she tried to walk. Walking was proving to be more difficult than putting the shoes on! Just as Maddie was getting frustrated, her daddy took her hand helping her to shuffle along to the kitchen to show her mommy.
“Surprise mommy! I’m just like you!”
As a child, like Maddie, didn’t we imagine we were someone else as we walked in their shoes? Maybe you imagined you were Batman, a fireman or a princess. But how about as adults? Even now, imagining we are walking in someone else’s shoes can be a valuable experience. It’s one of the tools we can use to help us forgive.
People may say or do things that hurt or offend us. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. Whether intentional or not, it is important to forgive.
And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him,
that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11:25-26
WHO ARE WE TO FORGIVE?
We are to forgive others, ourselves and God.
WHAT??!! Let me explain.
It is easy to understand the need to forgive others. However, when do we need to forgive ourselves or God? When things don’t’ go the way we feel they should, when bad things happen to good people, when we don’t get immediate answers to prayer, we sometimes blame God. Holding on to the hurt and blaming God for it, is unforgiveness.
How often do we think; God why did it happen? God why didn’t you take care of this problem? God why didn’t you answer me?
Only God knows the answers to our questions. But I can say this, although God is sovereign, He does not cause everything to happen. God’s character is love and He loves each and every one of us. There is evil in this world and everyone has the freedom to make their own choices. Wrong choices can result in negative consequences that impact us or others. No matter what happens, God still loves us and God can use all of it for good when we come to Him.
What about forgiving ourselves? The scripture says, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” (Mark 12:31).
Don’t’ you find that we often love our neighbor more than ourselves by forgiving them
but not forgiving ourselves?
We may say kind things to others yet, in our mind we are blasting ourselves. Being angry with ourselves for our mistakes and sins, holding on to blame, guilt and condemnation of ourselves are all simply unforgiveness of ourselves. You are too valuable and loved by God to hold onto unforgiveness. Please forgive yourself.
Unforgiveness puts a barrier between us and the person who hurt us.
Unforgiveness also puts a barrier between us and God.
When in faith we come to God with a need, but don’t forgive, the answer we seek is blocked. It’s not a lack of faith, but a lack of forgiveness that blocks the answer. To heal and tear down that barrier between us and God, we need to forgive.
In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus teaches the disciples to pray by reciting what we know as “The Lord’s Prayer.” At the conclusion of the prayer Jesus states,
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15.
When we forgive, we allow God to forgive us.
FORGIVING IS NOT ALWAYS EASY. SO, HOW DO WE FORGIVE?
Here are 4 ways that help us to forgive.
1. FORGIVE OUT OF OBEDIENCE TO GOD.
We don’t forgive because someone earns it. We forgive because God asked us to.
Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. Colossians 3:13
2. IMAGINE WALKING IN THEIR SHOES.
Walking in someone else’s shoes is not always easy, but it is often necessary for forgiveness.
We are all different. Our experiences, culture and teachings all mold us into the people we are and guide our actions. For a few moments, Maddie felt like mommy when she wore her mommy’s shoes. It didn’t matter that they didn’t fit Maddie and she couldn’t walk in them. Taking a moment to mentally and emotionally imagine walking in other’s shoes may help us to understand why they said or acted in a negative way. We don’t condone the behavior, but we may gain a better understanding of them and a compassionate love towards them.
But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return;
and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.
For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Luke 6:35
Walking in God’s shoes?
Well, we can’t very well imagine walking in God’s shoes or understand all of His actions. He is God after all. But we can remember His character of love and in faith believe that He acts in love. God is love, (1 John 4:16).
How about walking in your own shoes?
It may sound funny to imagine walking in your own shoes, but let me ask you a question. Have you ever lashed out at someone and later wondered why you spoke or acted in that way? I have. When we don’t understand our actions, we can be assured that God does. He knows our hearts and understands everything we do even when we don’t, (Psalm 139:2). When we ask God to help us understand our actions, He will.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5
Understanding our actions can help us to forgive ourselves.
Forgiving ourselves brings us the peace God desires us to have.
3. HAVE MERCY.
We may feel that someone does not deserve forgiveness, but that’s not why we forgive. Just like it is God’s merciful gift to us, God asks us to give that gift of mercy to others.
Therefore, be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Luke 3:36, 37
4. ASK GOD’S HELP TO FORGIVE.
We can’t always forgive in our own power. Maddie tried to walk in her mommy’s shoes, but she couldn’t do it without holding onto daddy’s hand. We too, need to hold our Heavenly Father’s hand for help to walk in other’s shoe’s, have compassion and forgive.
For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you. Isaiah 41:13
It takes faith to forgive….
Faith that God can heal our hurts, Psalm 147:3.
Faith that God will work all things to good, Romans 8:28.
Faith that God will give us compassion for the offender if we ask, Matthew 21:22.
Faith that God has a plan, Jeremiah 29:11
Faith that God is sovereign, Ephesians 4:6.
Faith that God’s timing is perfect. 2 Samuel 22:31
Forgiveness is a choice.
Forgiveness is not agreeing with someone’s bad behavior, nor is it being a doormat. Forgiveness is not subjecting yourself to abuse, putting yourself in harm’s way or allowing them to continue to hurt you. You are not responsible for someone else’s behavior. You are only responsible before God for your heart and your actions.
God chose to forgive us. Shouldn’t we also forgive?
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Your act of forgiveness might just be what draws someone to the Lord.
When you think of a particular person or situation does your body tense up? Perhaps it is because you are holding onto unforgiveness.
Heavenly Father, as I sit quietly, please bring to my mind anyone that I have not forgiven.
Instructions: Write down anyone that God brings to your mind. For each name, say “I Forgive.”
Continue forgiving them nightly until you feel compassion and forgiveness from your heart for that person.
Heavenly Father, as I write Colossians 3:13 and say it aloud, help me to forgive from my heart those you have brought to my mind. Please heal my hurts and help me to have faith that you can use all of this for good. In Jesus name, Amen.
FORGIVENESS BEGINS WITH AN ACT OF OBEDIENT FAITH
Girl’s photos thanks to #chefdaddy12516
Couples’ shoe’s photo thanks to Randy & Karen Esteppe
Boy’s photo by Joelle Moreau, pixabay
Goat photo by Milos Bijovic, unsplash
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