Or, you can choose not to forgive, and get farther away from God.
Usually, if you’re not a forgiver, you’re not a Christian…
Like, if your dog chewed up your shoe… you still love him!”
~Abigail Pelleman, age 7
These were the words my daughter said to me this week, after she overheard me telling her dad that I had forgiven him, but I still struggled over the fact that he had convinced me to throw away over ten years of teacher files. For our homeschool lesson, I was teaching my daughter a grammar lesson on contractions, wishing for some of the games and activities I’d had 25 years ago as a public school teacher.
Several years back, my files had been accidentally stored in the garage, and little critters had visited the box. They’d left a few marks…and I’m not talking about A+’s! Any elementary through high school teacher will tell you about the important of his or her teacher files! The files are a cumulative collection of our college professors’ teacher tips, copies of activities created and shared by ourselves and other teachers, and copyrighted lessons which grant special permissions to reproduce for education or classroom use. I’d hoped to salvage any folders that were hiding and had escaped, untouched. My husband had insisted I should just throw the entire box away; it would be daunting work to go through it paper by paper. I reluctantly agreed, and later deeply regretted it, feeling I’d made a dreadful mistake. I wondered at times, if I should have checked to make sure. It didn’t matter. The files were long gone.
There were other items my husband had convinced me to throw away, including: a fire place mantel, a hutch, and an old favorite beat up desk which was past its prime. These were things my husband wanted to”check off his list,” while the gears in my mind were considering options to repair, sell, or donate. We each had a different approach for getting rid of items we no longer needed. The differing opinions always eventually came again to the surface, as they do in any marriage where there is an attempt at communication. Sometimes these differences rub over the “sore spot” of an old wound from a long past argument. I was discussing the old wound of regret with my husband, as my daughter worked quietly at kitchen table.
My young daughter, in her godly wisdom, knew exactly how my old wound could heal…through the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Even if we have forgiven people over past events, sometimes the nick of the old wound brings about feelings of regret. Regret is actually a form of guilt. When regret visits, we need to take a second look, and make sure we have forgiven anyone who has offended us through Jesus Christ. I’d forgiven my husband, which caused me to wonder why I was still struggling with regret. I didn’t realize until much later, that the person who needed my forgiveness most, was actually…me. I renounced the spirit of guilt, in Jesus’ name, for not being able to provide my daughter with those delightful activities from long ago. My prayer worked. And so did my daughter’s. Today, on impulse, I created a brand new lesson. The activity made her laugh so hard, she had tears in her eyes!
During those first days of my teaching career, when I was just beginning to build up that precious box of teacher files, money was budgeted carefully. I’d come home to discover that my puppy had chewed up my brand new leather career shoes and my brand new leather purse. I was not happy! But, as I scooped up the ball of warm, wriggly cocker spaniel, and looked into her chocolate brown eyes, the forgiveness came immediately. The silver lining is that God feels the same way about us! He gathers us into His arms, and covers us with the forgiveness of Christ.
Whether a mistake from the past is real or perceived, we may come face to face with regret. Whether regret comes from old wounds requiring surgery, or just a tiny little paper cut, it all needs to be healed through the power of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Accepting God’s grace and mercy is the greatest gift towards living a hope-filled life of joy and freedom here on earth. Give your past regrets to Jesus: “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14 New International Version).
Summary of 3 biblical truths on forgiveness, backed by scripture, based on the words of a young child filled with The Holy Spirit:
1. “Forgive… or, you can choose not to forgive, and get farther away from God.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matt. 6:14-15
2. “Usually, if you’re not a forgiver, you’re not a Christian…”
“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” 1 John 4:20
3. “Like, if your dog chewed up your shoe… you still love him!”
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”