But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. ~Matthew 6:15 (NKJV)
Shortly after I was saved and sitting under a Pastor, as I went to church each week, I heard a lot of messages on this business of forgiveness. Needless to say, I became very convicted due to my own bitterness and resentment towards someone I was once very close to. The Lord began to deal with me on this, and showed me how I was harboring unforgiveness. It finally drove me to my knees in prayer and that prayer went something like this: “Lord, I know what Your word says about forgiveness, that I must forgive the same way You forgave me, and that if I want to be forgiven, I had better exercise forgiveness!” I went on to tell the Lord how much I disliked this person, and even hated this person at times. I concluded with, “Lord, I want to be obedient to You and I want to please You, so please help me to forgive.”
Six months later, a guest speaker was at our church. The first thing out of his mouth was: “How do you know if you have forgiven someone?” I remember sitting up and saying to myself, “Yeah, how do you know?” The preacher, answering his own question, said, “When the sting is gone and they no longer live rent free in your head.” I remember thinking, “Wow! I haven’t even thought about that person for approximately 6 months!” The Holy Spirit immediately reminded me about the time I prayed, and assured me that God honored my willingness to forgive.
Recently, one of our Bible Study volunteers (Jamie Gentile) reported that one of the inmates in his class shared his testimony about forgiveness. Jamie related the following testimony: “Over 40 years ago, I was abused by a man who eventually died in an Alabama state prison. I have been carrying the shame and guilt for what happened to me all these years. I felt it was my fault. I became a Christian about 4 years ago, but I still carried these feelings. However, through Jamie’s Biblical teachings of the past 3 months, it has opened my eyes to see it was not my fault. I was recently praying and felt I needed to forgive that man for what he did to me. The moment I forgave him, a wave of love and joy came over me like I have never experienced.” He announced to his fellow inmates in the class: “Guys, this forgiveness stuff is real! We need to forgive!”
Jamie concluded with “Wow! What a testimony of God’s love reaching into the heart of a man trapped in a prison much bigger than Macomb County Jail!”
Grateful and forgiven,