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"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32)
Some time ago, I went on a two hour tour through the Holocaust Memorial in Washington D.C. The experience affected me deeply. The horrifying spectacle of thousands of victim's shoes gathered in a huge heap, the shocking video clips of Nazi doctors implementing torturous "experiments" on innocent Jewish victims, and the hundreds upon hundreds of documents, diaries and other WWII paraphernalia all combined to awaken my senses with the grim reality of what took place over half a century ago... the systematic slaughter of over six million Jews. I had heard it was a shaking experience, but one must see it to believe it. The most gripping part is looking into the faces in the pictures on the walls. People like you and me who lost their lives to an evil empire powered by satanic forces. Those that survived were faced with an impossible choice: to live the rest of their days in bitterness and anger, or forgive those who wreaked such unspeakable acts upon them. How could anyone who survived the Nazi death camps ever forgive their wicked captors?
Is there someone in your life who you need to forgive? Maybe it's someone who abused you. Maybe it's that one-time friend who stabbed you in the back. Whoever it may be, God commands us to forgive them. As hard as that might sound, He leaves us no options. He asks us to do this because unforgiveness and the Holy Spirit cannot live in the same person. If you don't forgive, you are locked in a death camp with the two guards of bitterness and anger torturing you.
The word forgive in the Bible means "to release; to send away." If you are having difficulty forgiving, then let's try something different. Clench your hand tightly into a fist. As you squeeze, imagine that your anger and bitterness toward that person is in your grasp. Squeeze hard while you think of everything that person has done to hurt you. Now, think about Jesus (keeping your fist clenched). Consider how much you have hurt Jesus with your own sin. Now picture his torn and twisted body hanging on the cross. Imagine the mocking crowd surrounding Him, cursing and screaming insults at the innocent One. Now listen to Him as he calls out to God: "Forgive them Father. They don't know what they're doing." Contemplate your own continuous sinfulness (which played a part in sending Jesus to the cross) and God's constant forgiveness toward you because of Christ. Now, through an act of your will, slowly open your clenched fist. Depend on God's Spirit release your bitterness. Send away your unforgiveness. Cast your own hatred into the gas chamber.
Remember, forgiveness is not a feeling, but an act of your will. You must choose to release. Yet choosing is the first step in finding the feelings of forgiveness. If anyone had a reason not to forgive, it was not the Jews of the Holocaust, but the Messiah from Nazareth. He was without sin yet was brutally slaughtered. He forgave us anyway. He has released His anger for our sin and sent it away. Let's follow in His footsteps and escape from the prison of hatred before it is too late.
Dare 2 Share is a church assisting ministry that provides resources for youth leaders and equips teens to relationally and relentlessly reach their generation for Christ. Over 1,400 of these resources are provided completely FREE! D2S also conducts nationwide youth evangelism training conferences. The events are structured for students in junior high and high school, ranging from 12 to 18 years old. Regardless of gender or denomination, D2S teaches from a Christian perspective. D2S is based in Denver, Colorado and has impacted the lives of more than 300,000 teens since 1991.
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