I heard about a guy who stole $400 from a restaurant till. He got feeling so guilty about it, he decided to make things right. So late one night, he sat down and wrote out a letter to the restaurant. He didn’t sign his name. Just put $200 in an envelope with a note telling what he’d done. And then he wrote, “If I still feel guilty, I’ll send in the rest.” The guy was misguided, but rather honest.
Near the start of my year of attempting to be totally honest and live without a lie, a friend dumped me. Not only did he unfriend me on Facebook, suddenly he was spreading rumours about me. It was like a train-wreck high school romance. I confronted him of course, but he dodged the issue. My wife Ramona said I should pray for him, so I did, “Lord, may a watermelon fall out and land on his toe.” Does this count as prayer? Just being honest. One day I found out he tried to have me fired from my job. “Lord,” I prayed, “Give him jury duty.”
One night I picked up the Bible, which is normally a mistake if you want to hold a really good grudge. But tonight it was of great comfort. I read Psalm 35 in The Message: “Harass these hecklers, God, punch these bullies in the nose. Stand up for me!…catch them in the very trap they set.” Well said, David! Sing it again! Selah. I kept reading. In Psalm 37 I found these words, “Bridle your anger, trash your wrath, cool your pipes—it only makes things worse.” Before long I was reading about God’s mercy, about His forgiveness.
That night as I prayed, my heart started to thaw just a bit. A week later I heard that one of his children was in the hospital & was surprised by a tinge of compassion. Then after a sermon on forgiveness I prayed that God would forgive him and help me forgive him too.
And finally, God gave me a glimpse of my wicked heart and I prayed: “Lord, you forgave those who put nails in your wrists; maybe I should forgive my former friend.” I realized that I’ve hurt others as surely as my friend has hurt me. Each time I forgive him, God sets ME free. Is there someone you need to set free today? Is it God? Yourself? A friend or family member? Do it. Maybe you need to sit down and write a letter and return some money. I’ve got a suggestion, send all of it.
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