Posted by: judyhitson | April 4, 2022

Freedom to Forgive

Freedom to Forgive
by Brenda D. Flowers

Ignored…misunderstood…betrayed…pressed…taken…led…accused…hated…chastised…
mocked…crushed….abused…battered…plucked…slapped…stripped….wounded….torn…
pounded…hung…jeered…pierced…. bled;  forsaken until the justice required by God was finished.

This was the cross Jesus bore.

Yet while suffering on the cross, Jesus spoke,

 “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23, 34 a, KJV)

Jesus’ sound went forth. The sound of freedom.

Do we realize how powerful His words of forgiveness were, and are? 

God, in human flesh, died so we, sinful human beings, may be forgiven and reconciled to Him for eternity. In turn, we are commissioned to share His loving message of forgiveness.

 Jesus died to give us freedom from sin, shame and death.

Misunderstood…hated…gnashed at…grabbed… pushed…cast out…stoned…killed;

but not forsaken, welcomed by Jesus.

This was the “cross” Stephen bore as the first Christian martyr.

Stephen was faithful. He boldly shared his people’s history and words inspired by the Holy Spirit. (Acts 7) Yet, as his accusers stoned him and closed their ears, Stephen freely chose to forgive.

May we see and hear the sound of freedom as we read aloud these powerful words recorded in Acts 7, vs.57-60 (NKJV):

Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Boldness added.)

 The young man, Saul, who participated in the persecution of the early church heard Stephen’s words. I believe the Holy Spirit used Stephen’s words to begin softening Saul’s heart.

Testimonies have an impact.

 The sound of Stephen’s words of forgiveness still touch hearts with God’s freedom message.

 Stephen’s suffering was not in vain.

Forgiving words, inspired by Love, change hearts.

As we study God’s Word, we see that Saul became the apostle Paul, chosen by Jesus to carry on His message of freedom. God transformed Saul to Paul.

As we search the New Testament, we read Paul’s personal testimony of his transformational life journey, the “cross” he bore, and his sincere love and forgiveness for people. We see how he completed his God-given mission.

Forgiveness is a key to the freedom message, Paul proclaimed. He passed the Lord’s message to his readers,

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; 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. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful…. (Colossians 3: 12-15, NKJV)

I believe each follower of Christ faces difficult circumstances in our own transformational journey through life. We each bear our own “cross” that tests who we truly are. God helps us by His Spirit.

We each have the freedom to choose to share our testimony and to proclaim forgiveness to people in our lives who are lost or who have hurt us.

Our testimonies of forgiveness impact people.

Father in Heaven, we want to follow Jesus and do Your will as He did. May we truly forgive others our trespasses as we have been forgiven. In Jesus’ victorious name we pray. Amen


Responses

  1. Forgiveness…
    A gift for sharing!


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