05 Nov “Laying the Ghosts of the Past to Rest”
Read Matthew 18:21-35
Thought for the Day: Forgiveness lays the ‘ghosts of the past’ to rest!
A special envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Terry Waite, was sent to the Middle East in the 1980s where he negotiated the release of multiple hostages. His efforts were successful in releasing 10 individuals before he was himself taken captive himself for a four-year-period beginning in 1987. While this experience could have left him jaded and bitter, Waite clung to his faith. Through a lifetime of following Jesus, he had learned the power of forgiveness. Despite being wrongly imprisoned, Waite willingly sought out those who had made him suffer and he accepted the apology of one of his captors: “We apologize for having captured you. We recognize now that this was a wrong thing to do, that holding hostages achieves no useful, constructive purpose.” In the years following, Waite made multiple return trips to forgive his captors and lay to rest the “ghosts of the past”.
Jesus Himself was asked if there was a limit to the number of times a person should forgive. Simon Peter, misunderstanding the point of forgiveness in the first place, assumed that seven is a fair limit to the number of times we should forgive those who wrong us. Jesus corrected him and responded that, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Jesus’ answer had nothing to do with limits or rules. Instead, He taught Peter to forgive consistently and make it a habit!
Forgiveness is not about us changing the person who wronged us. We cannot change anyone – that is God’s job. Neither is forgiveness about proving that we are better than anyone else. We are not – we are all sinners and fall short! Rather, forgiveness is about genuinely letting go of our bitterness and laying the ‘ghosts of the past’ to rest! When we are willing to fully let go, we experience true peace.
Pastors Stan and David
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