Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone.
Do you have any regrets in your life? It is true that we cannot undo our past. Life has no rewind button. But there are some things we can do to avoid regrets about our marriage, our work, our time, our finances, our parenting, and every other area in life. And there are corrections we can make to reverse some of the consequences of those things we regret.
But how do we handle regrets about what other people have done to us? For example, it is one thing to say, “I have regrets about my marriage, so I am going to rekindle my relationship with my mate.” But what do you do about a mate who leaves you for another lover? You can say, “I regret the mistakes I have made in my vocation, so I will work more diligently.” But how do you handle a boss who unjustly terminates you?
Up to this point in our series on living without regrets, we have talked about regrets we are responsible for. But how do we handle regrets about what other people have done to us? What about a wife who is being continually abused by her husband? Or a retiree whose life savings is stolen by a fellow Christian? Or a parent whose child is murdered in a contest between rival gangs? By the way, those are not hypothetical situations; those are all situations I have dealt with in recent years. This week we will look at living without relationship regrets.
There is only one way to handle regrets we have over what other people have done to us, and that is forgiveness. A few years ago our church hosted a broadcast, and Sheila Walsh, a well-known Christian speaker, was on the panel. Somebody asked her, “Sheila, what is the greatest single need you see in families today?” She said, “That’s easy—forgiveness.”
The word “forgive” means to let go of, to release. When you forgive somebody, you give up your right to hurt that person for hurting you. We all know that forgiveness is a virtue; it is something desirable. There is something good about letting go of that bitterness instead of holding on to it. But even though we extol the virtue of bitterness in general, we find it very hard to practice it in our own lives. C. S. Lewis said it well: “Every one says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.” This week we will look at practical ways to practice genuine forgiveness when you have something to forgive.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Living without Relationship Regrets” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
Quote from C. S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity” (New York: HarperCollins, 2009), 115.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.