After Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers said to each other, “What if Joseph still hates us and wants to get even with us for all the cruel things we did to him?”
16 So they sent this message to Joseph:
Before our father died, 17 he told us, “You did some cruel and terrible things to Joseph, but you must ask him to forgive you.”
Now we ask you to please forgive the terrible things we did. After all, we serve the same God that your father worshiped.
When Joseph heard this, he started crying. Genesis 50:15-17 (CEV)
Most of us reading this today can think of someone who needs forgiveness. It might be a former friend or neighbor. It could be a parent or sibling. It could also be ourselves. Take a moment here and ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind anyone you need to forgive.
People who I respect have told me that forgiving someone is not about “letting the person off the hook” for what they have done to you or a loved one. It is about letting go of an emotion that festers and becomes bitterness, even hate. Unforgiveness is like an aggressive and insidious infection that will slowly grow until it destroys your whole being. I have learned that what I was taught – is true.
Forgiving someone is a simple act in response to a difficult decision. I saw how I was holding this person clinched in my hand and dragging them around with me to every relationship I had and every moment in my life. I could not reach out to others with two open arms because I had one firmly clinched. For what purpose? What was holding on to that person in that situation doing for me? Was it to punish the other person? If so, was that making me feel better? Was it causing that person heartache? Probably not.
Do something monumental for yourself today. Get quiet somewhere and decide that today is the day to make a change. Today is the time to move in a new direction.
Consider how much weight this unforgiveness is causing in your life. Consider how much it is affecting you. Now, remember how you felt the day/night that you accepted that you needed a Savior to take all of your sins and forgive you. Remember the weight that slid off of you. It is time to do that again and Jesus will help you with this one, too. Ask Jesus to help you open your hand and let go of whoever has hurt you. Do it now.
Jesus, I need Your help to let go of _________. I put every bit of hurt and pain they have done to me into Your hands. I trust You to be their judge. I trust You to take all the words and actions that are involved in this – and handle it the way You see fit. Wash me clean of this unforgiveness, LORD. I throw open the doors of my heart, mind and spirit so You can totally clean me. I want to hold on to nothing! I thank You for this day and hour of freedom from the burden I have carried. Thank You, LORD! Praise You, LORD! May this day be forever in my memory as a day of Freedom. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Blessed Be the Name of the LORD written by Andy Park & sung by Lindell Cooley