Forgiveness…One of the Greatest Gifts You Can Give
On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the King’s hall. The King was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. 2 When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. Esther 5:1-2
One of my favorite books of the Bible is Esther. One Sunday, our pastor was talking about extending love and forgiveness to others. The scene where the King extends his royal scepter to Esther and welcomes her into his presence came to mind. I heard the Lord say, “I have placed the scepter in the hands of my people.”
In Esther’s case, the King had forbidden the queen to come into his presence unless invited. This rule came about because of Queen Vashti’s disobedience in ignoring the King’s invitation. The extension of the scepter granted the Queen favor to approach the King.
God has given us the power to choose forgiveness and extend that forgiveness to those who have wounded us. In essence, we extend that scepter and welcome them in. Or, we can chose to hold on to that “power” and it becomes a barrier in our lives. In trying to protect ourselves, we build walls. Yes, those walls may protect us from being hurt again, but they also become a type of prison to us.
I am surprised at the many Christians I have heard say, “I am just not willing to forgive them.” Forgiveness is a choice. It isn’t always something we feel and it often involves repeatedly making the choice to forgive when that old resentment or woundedness tries to rear its ugly head.
Forgiveness robs us of relationship with others.
My dad was a good man, he didn’t normally hit us, but this time I guess I’d pushed him to the breaking point. We were involved in a shouting match and in his anger, he slapped me across the face.
My dad and I seemed to butt heads often. When I announced my engagement, my dad was concerned about the choice and didn’t want to see me hurt. That is what sparked the argument. In his anger and frustration, he did what came natural to him, he put his foot down and delivered an ultimatum.
“If you chose to go ahead and marry, I will not come to your wedding,” his angry words rang out.
I don’t remember exactly what was said next, but it probably went something like this, “I don’t care if you come. I hate you!” That is when I felt the sting of his hand on my cheek.
As I stood before the mirror and examined the ugly welt, anger welled up inside of me. “I hate you,” said the voice within my head, “I hate this life, and I hate you. I don’t care if you come to my wedding or if you are ever a part of my life again!”
I moved out of the house a few days before the wedding. As I packed up my things, my mom came into my bedroom, “Your father is out in the backyard. I think you should go out and talk to him.” She said. I hadn’t spoken much to my parents since the night of our argument. Our relationship was strained. A wall of unforgiveness had been erected that I wasn’t about to tear down. I loved my parents dearly, but I was young and thought I had all answers.
When I approached my dad he was crying, something we rarely saw him do. He hugged me and started sobbing. “I’m so sorry,” he stammered, “but I still can’t support this.” My dad was definitely one who didn’t back down from his decisions. I told my dad I forgave him, and asked him to forgive me as well.
My wedding day came, and I walked down the aisle…alone.
I could have hardened my heart and allowed unforgiveness to keep me from further relationship with my father. But instead, I chose to work through the strained and often awkward relationship and extend and receive forgiveness. I am so glad that I did. I can’t imagine losing a loved one and never having made peace or letting unforgiveness rob my family of relationship.
Unforgiveness is a tool of the enemy to steal, kill and destroy relationship and keep us imprisoned behind its walls.
Forgiving doesn’t mean we have to be best friends with that person, or even put ourselves in the same situation again. Forgiveness is choosing to let go of the pain and hurt that keeps us captive and allowing God to rule and reign in that area.
A pastor friend once explained it to me this way, if someone slams your fingers in the door, forgiveness means you will chose to open the door for that person next time, but it may mean making sure your fingers are clear of the door.
I loved my dad with my whole heart. Our relationship grew closer over the years. He died unexpectedly in 2008, 28 years after I married. I am so glad I didn’t waste all those years being angry at him.
Is there unforgiveness in your heart towards someone? Don’t let another day go by allowing those walls to keep you captive. Take out the sledge hammer and choose to forgive. I have never met anyone who said, “I am so glad I never forgave that person that hurt me.”
This may not be your typical “Christmas story,” but what greater gift can we give or receive this Christmas? After all, isn’t that what Jesus brought to us when He came to earth as a baby in a manager – forgiveness and redemption. Is there someone in your life you need to offer the gift of forgiveness to?
The Lord has placed the scepter in your hands, will you choose to extend it towards that person or situation, or will you chose to hold onto that “power” and stay “safe” within its walls.
“Heavenly Father, Abba Father, Daddy God…you love us so much. Thank you for breaking down walls of unforgiveness today. Thank you for the freedom that you desire to bring. Thank you, that in you, we have that safe place. No walls that we erect will protect us the way that you do. Thank you that there is life outside the walls and for the wonderful things that you have in store for us.” Amen