COS Lenten Devotions

Forgiving Yourself and Others

February 27, 2023

Thank you to Linda Barbour for this Lenten devotional.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?  Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22.

It’s an important concept in Jesus’ ministry, this one of forgiveness. He mentions it repeatedly and includes it in the world’s most important prayer, and above all, He died for the forgiveness of our sins. 

I am reminded of a demonstration I once saw. Dwight had a pile of stones – all sizes – in front of him.  He announced that the transgressions that we carry around with us – towards ourselves and towards others, weigh us down.  He picked up a handful of little stones and as he spoke, his helper added these stones to a backpack he had strapped on. “These stones represent the little hurts that we hang on to – the spouse who forgot an anniversary, the snide comment from a friend.  He then picked up some middle-sized stones. “These stones represent the bigger hurts – the nasty neighbor, the jerk who banged up your car and drove off.”  His helper added a handful of the medium stones. The weight of the backpack was beginning to hunch the speaker over. “And the big stones…”  He paused. “These big stones represent the biggest hurts. The spouse that cheated, the drunk driver who hurt your loved one.” They went into the backpack, also, and by the time that last stone went in, the weight of the backpack was almost too heavy to bear. He trudged across the room. 

The backpack was then unloaded.  As the stones came out, Dwight ‘s step became light again. Unloading the stones represented forgiveness, and the positive impact on your heart. 

“But that’s not all”, Dwight said. Not forgiving yourself weighs you down, too.  Again, the stones were added, but this time, the backpack was on the front.  Little stones represented little things you felt guilty for – cross words, etc. The medium stones were bigger guilts, and large stones represented the biggest guilts – the ones that even knowing God forgives you, these keep you from forgiving yourself.  These guilts get in the way of the spirit when He tries to enter your heart. 

It was a powerful demonstration that I will never forget. 

Although the Bible never says anything about the psychological benefits of forgiveness, it does say “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” And that, right there, is a most important thing. 

I can’t improve on the greatest prayer ever written, so I’ll conclude with this one.     

Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. 

Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven.  

Give us this day our daily bread,

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. 

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the glory, and the power.

Forever and ever. Amen