“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” – Jesus, Matthew 6:14-15
My family and I recently watched the movie Invictus. It’s excellent, and I highly recommend it. I’d seen it before, but I was once again struck by a few things in it.
Besides some pretty solid leadership lessons, which I always love, there’s an even greater truth tucked into this powerful story.
The title of the movie, Invictus, is from a poem written by William Ernest Henley; but the movie is based on the story of Nelson Mandela. It’s specifically focused on his first term in office as the President of South Africa.
Faced with a staunchly divided nation, Mandela seeks to unite his country; and he recruits the national rugby team to help. I won’t say any more in case you have not seen it yet.
Anyway…one of the most important lessons of the movie is the power of forgiveness, and the reality that…someone needs to open the door to forgiveness.
After 30 years in prison, Nelson Mandela [played exceptionally by Morgan Freeman] models forgiveness. He actually forgives the people who imprisoned him. It is incredibly powerful, and the end result is…healing…reconciliation…hope.
At one point, Mandela [Freeman] says, “Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon.”
Forgiveness is powerful!
God’s Word teaches us:
– We need to treat others the way we want to be treated. [Matthew 7:12]
– Love covers a multitude of sins. [1 Peter 4:8]
Yet, we struggle with forgiving. We harbor anger, bitterness and unforgiveness in our hearts…and in doing so, we ultimately hurt ourselves. Unforgiveness destroys us from the inside out.
Listen…We have all been hurt, exploited, let down, mistreated, or wronged; but we are called to forgive. [ref. Colossians 3:13] And until we fully let go of the other person’s throat, we will not be free. We will be stuck. [Note: We’ll dig into that verse more in our Chain Reaction Series.]
We find true freedom and healing in forgiveness.
So…Are you withholding forgiveness?
Is there someone you need to extend forgiveness to so that you can find freedom from that thing you have been carrying? You may need to do that in person, but it may be the circumstances surrounding them or the offense make that unsafe or even impossible. However, regardless of our ability to interact with them directly or not, we can still let go. We can still forgive.
My friend…It is time to let it go. It is time to forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Ask God to help you. Choose to forgive. You can do this in His strength.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14