Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's Time to Stop Doing Time (Genesis 39-41; 50:15-21)

Have you ever been in prison? If your answer is no, think again. Think carefully. Have you ever been imprisoned by resentment or by a refusal to forgive? Are you in prison now?

Joseph was in prison literally, yet he was free spiritually. He had been hurt by what people had done to him and by what they had failed to do for him. But even though he’d been wronged, he chose to have a right attitude—a God-focused mindset that refused to let resentment shackle his spirit. By forgiving, Joseph freed those who had hurt him. He released them from his debt—from what they owed him. And in extending freedom to others, he experienced freedom himself.

When we free others through forgiveness, we free ourselves. It’s not always easy to forgive, though, is it? Sometimes the things people have done, or have left undone, hurt us so badly that everything inside us cries out for revenge, or at least for restitution. We want the offenders to pay for how they’ve injured us, or at least to apologize. But regardless of what they choose to do, we have a choice to make ourselves. We can choose to relive the pain by focusing on it, or we can choose to release the pain by forgiving. It would be nice if we could make the choice once, and never feel the pain again. But it doesn’t work that way. We must choose to forgive again and again—each time we feel resentment wrapping its cold chains around our hearts. How can we find the strength to forgive in a way that truly sets us—and others—free? The strength to forgive lies in remembering the truth. The truth will set us free.

The truth is—we’re guilty before God, for what we’ve done and for what we’ve failed to do. We deserve the death penalty. But He paid it for us. He releases us from our debt—from what we owe Him, freeing us to release others from their debts to us. As we thank Him for forgiving us, we can take from Him the strength to forgive others.

Unlike Joseph, you don’t have to wait two years to be released from your prison. The King of all the earth is calling you out . . . now. Are you ready to leave?

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other,
just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV).

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 NIV).

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36 NIV).

Copyright © 2010 Sherrie Lorance. All rights reserved.

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