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Why do we, fallen and imperfect, find it so hard to forgive those who offend us all the while knowing that we have been so mercifully forgiven by the infinite, perfect God?    

When man disobeyed the command of God, God wasted no time reaching out in forgiveness with a plan that included the sacrifice of His Son. God suffered heartache not only through man’s disobedience but by the penalty placed upon Christ for man’s ransom.  

But, in His sorrow, God did not allow pride to enter the picture, and He stooped down to lift man from the filthy mire of sin. Unfortunately, we often do not follow His example. In our distress, we ponder, “How could they do this to me?” And, “Well, it’s going to be up to them to set this straight!”

We have a high opinion of ourselves and resent anyone tampering with us. It is this little thing called pride. Furthermore, right on the coattails of pride, anger rolls in. As anger rolls along, just like a snowball, feelings of bitterness grow greater and greater.

Bitterness Began to Grow

I was distraught over continued problems with loved ones. Soon, the heartache was joined by a surge of pride. My thoughts said, “We loved them; how could they hurt us?  They had no right to do that.” Before long, anger made its entrance. My heart seethed, “Why should we be hurting while they go along as if nothing happened?” I could not shake the thoughts from my mind, and bitterness began to grow.

Day after day I pleaded with the Lord to take the turmoil from my heart. One night as I lay in tears, calling out to God, I heard a voice as distinct as if a person was standing beside the bed. It was a voice like no other I had ever heard: soothing, full of body, and almost melodic. He spoke only three words, “You must forgive.”  

I prayed, “Father, I can not forgive; please put love in my heart for them and take away the bitterness.” And one day the pain was gone; love had taken its place. With God’s might, I had forgiven them. Those three words changed my life.

The heartache would not go away until the disease of pride, anger, and bitterness were healed, and the remedy was to forgive.

This is God’s desire: “...be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

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By Mary Etta Smith. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD VERSION ®.

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