Matthew 18:35 – This is how your heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from the heart. (NIV)
Matthew 6:12 – And forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. (NLT)
Years ago at a World Day of Prayer Service, we were given small slips of paper and were told to write down the names of people we would like to forgive and receive forgiveness from. I was a young mother at that time, and another young mother and I clashed every time we got within speaking distance. I wrote her name on my slip of paper and placed it on the offering plate. The slips of paper were taken to the altar and symbolically burned.
At that time of my life, I was busy with my family. I soon forgot the service. Later, I realized our status had changed, and we were becoming friends. As our friendship deepened, I told her what I had done. She saw it as an act of love. She shared the experience at an evening worship service, and asked forgiveness from anyone else she might have "run over" in the church.
Later, she and I and a third person formed a prayer team and experienced some profound spiritual experiences together. Her husband died, and she moved from our church. Later, she, too, was killed in an automobile accident.
Thoughts of her still touch my life. How grateful I've been that I wrote her name that day. Forgiveness can open up the doors to a rich and full life. Forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts that Jesus Christ has given to us. It removes the burden from our shoulders and lets the joy of love flow around us.
Prayer: Father, we thank you for the opportunity to forgive and be forgiven. Thank you for friends that touch our lives and share your love with us. Amen.