National Forgiveness Day

Yes, I saw on Facebook that yesterday was National Forgiveness Day! I thought that was great, and they quoted this verse: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” – Colossians 3:13.

‘As the Lord forgave you’ is the key. Does God wait for us to think up a fancy apology? Well, I remember the story of the prodigal son. While the son was still a long way off, the father saw him and ran to meet him. The son didn’t even have a chance to get all his words out before the father was throwing his arms around him and kissing him. It’s like that with God: Make one move towards Him, and He’s so eager to see you, He’ll be quick to do the rest.

I first came across forgiveness as a Christian when I did a new believers’ course. We had to write down the names of anyone we needed to forgive. It didn’t say: Write down the names, pray for them to apologise, then you can forgive. No, we have to forgive as God forgave us – because we want to, not because the other person’s done anything to deserve it. Recently, someone showed me something I hadn’t seen in that prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray: “forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors” is a prayer God’s going to answer. So if you hold a grudge against the person who’s wronged you, or keep it in mind so you can mention it if ever they do the same thing again, … do you realise God will treat you the same way?

To anyone reading this, I don’t know what you’re having to deal with at the moment, but I really feel strongly that you won’t be able to forgive in your own strength, so please don’t struggle; bring the person to God in prayer, and see what God does. As I write, I’m thinking of something that happened to me – something I was angry about for quite a long time. After forgiving that person, the anger wasn’t there anymore. I even started to wonder about their feelings and what made them do what they did, which I never would have expected.

I hope this post has been helpful. It’s your choice, but if you’d like to share anything forgiveness-related in the comments, I’d be very happy to pray for you.

To be a Blessing

With all these cuts the UK-government are making, many of us are feeling the effects. Even if we’re not directly impacted at the moment, things aren’t looking as secure as they used to. This should be no surprise. 1 Timothy 6:17 says: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment”. God’s already urged us not to put our hope in wealth, but nevertheless, when your circumstances change, it can take some adjusting to. That’s why I wanted to pass on some encouragement I had last week, when reading chapters 7-8 of Zechariah.

“This is what the LORD Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’ But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the LORD Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the LORD Almighty was very angry. “‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations, where they were strangers. The land they left behind them was so desolate that no one traveled through it. This is how they made the pleasant land desolate’” (7:9-14). I read that and I thought: If that’s how God treated those who didn’t do what was in His heart, when He sees those who are showing compassion and helping the poor, won’t He treat them well?

And in the next chapter, this verse: “Just as you, Judah and Israel, have been a curse among the nations, so I will save you, and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong” (8:13). You may bless others in many ways – with your finances, your abilities, your time. One of my privileges is that I’m able to sponsor children through Compassion. I really hope God will provide for me to carry this on. I love my family in the Philippines and Haiti, and I want desperately to see them through to the end of their sponsorship. I need to do what Zechariah 8 says and not be afraid. Whatever the world might throw at you, if you’ve given your life to God, He’s in control.

I hope you’ve been helped by these verses. Is there anything specific you’re hoping for?