"Not to forgive is to be imprisoned by the past, by old grievances that do not permit life to proceed with new business. Not to forgive is to yield oneself to another's control... to be locked into a sequence of act and response, of outrage and revenge, tit for tat, escalating always. The present is endlessly overwhelmed and devoured by the past. Forgiveness frees the forgiver. It extracts the forgiver from someone else's nightmare." - Lanny Morrow
This quote captures the concept that truly struck me last week as I prepared my Sunday message. If you were there you know we talked about the uniting power of the Gospel. I stated, and firmly believe, that the most powerful instrument of reconciliation is the Gospel when it is empowered by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers. And the greatest tool of reconciliation expressed in the Gospel is the power to forgive. God the Father, through Jesus Christ, provided the vehicle by which He could forgive us the sinner. He initiated it and did not require us to earn it. This example shows the path forward for us to live in forgiveness towards those around us. That's whey we are continually instructed in God's word to forgive as we have been forgiven.
But what struck me so clearly was that the ability to forgive puts in our hands the ability to live in peace. That when we refuse to forgive, unless the offending party does this or that, we empower that person who hurt us to continue to be in control over us. But when we freely and willingly release anger or bitterness towards another we take the initiative and the control of our own spiritual and emotional well being.
Forgiveness is a powerful tool of reconciliation and personal well being embodied in the Gospel life and work of Jesus Christ given to us by the Holy Spirit. May we begin today to use that tool to both discover and reveal God's peace.