Set that prisoner free!

Good Morning Everyone,
 
Our theme for this month: “You have been set free”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 (NIV)
 
Our thought for today: “Set that prisoner free!”
 
When we placed our faith in Christ, God set us free from the penalty for our sins by forgiving us. Now, for multiple reasons, He wants us to forgive others. For one thing, by doing so, we help to set them free. Let them experience forgiveness, even if they don’t deserve it. Often, unmerited forgiveness extended as an act of grace will have a profound impact on someone. It may soften their heart toward you and towards God. Also, by forgiving them you are setting them free from an ongoing adversarial relationship. Proverbs 17:9 says, “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.”
 
But more often, the one who gains the greatest freedom from the act of forgiveness is the one doing the forgiving. In his book “Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve” author Lewis B. Smedes wrote, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
 
What he means is that when we continue to hold a grudge against someone the greatest damage is done to ourselves, not to the other person. Often the other person has completely forgotten about the offense, or seldom thinks about it, or doesn’t care. But if you are holding onto the offense that means you think about it, stew about it, and continue to expend emotional energy on it. When you do that, it will darken your disposition and therefore probably have a negative impact on other parts of your life as well. When you choose to forgive the offense, whether the other person deserves forgiveness or not, you do it more for yourself than for them.
 
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you are excusing or even accepting their offensive behavior. It simply means you are giving it over to God, and choosing to let it go and not think about it anymore. This is what Paul was counseling in Romans 12:18-20 when he wrote, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
 
You can help to set others free by extending forgiveness to them – even if they don’t deserve it. But more importantly, the prisoner you end up setting free may very well be yourself.
 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim
Copyright © 2021 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

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