Here is a great and insiteful essay written by George O. Wood (general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.) I was greatly challenged and encouraged in it.
Saying Goodbye to Hurt, Hello to Healing: Part 2
In her autobiography, Something More, the late Catherine
Marshall tells the story of her stepdaughter, Linda. Catherine married
Linda’s widowed father when Linda was 12.
In Linda’s early
adolescence, her behavior and grades seesawed wildly. After leaving high
school, Linda joined the 1960s generation of rebellion. Catherine did
not succeed in her attempts to establish a warm relationship.
day Catherine read Jesus’ words from the King James Version about having
aughts against another. She learned if you did not forgive those
aughts, God would not forgive your own aughts (Mark 11:25). She filled
her journal with three pages of specific aughts she had against Linda
and forgave each one.
In a matter of weeks, Linda’s attitude
toward her stepmother began to dramatically change. Catherine had
learned a powerful lesson from Jesus: We must not retain wrongs.
the cross Jesus did not clench His nail-pierced hands into a fist and
yell, “I’ll get even with you for this.” Instead, He opened His hands
and cried, “Father, forgive.”
A concentration camp survivor said,
“My heart is so bitter that if you were to open me and lick my heart you
would die of poison.” What does your heart look like?
said getting even with another person for the wrong he has done is like
throwing a cactus. When the cactus hits him, he will hurt; but you will
hurt your own hands in the process.
How To Forgive
Unforgiveness has a high cost, but how does one proceed in forgiveness? Allow me to suggest three steps.
years ago I watched a motivational film that recorded a scientific
experiment done on a northern pike, a cold-water fish found in the north
central United States.
The scientist placed the fish in a glass
tank filled with water and denied it food. Next, he placed a glass
cylinder containing minnows — the pike’s favorite food — in the center
of the tank. The pike could not detect the glass that stood between him
and dinner. He backed up and charged for the kill. Smash! Smash! Smash!
several unsuccessful attempts, he finally stopped. The scientist then
removed the glass cylinder. Minnows swam throughout the tank, even up to
the pike’s nose. He never stirred. He remained quiet and beaten, and he
died. He died because he did not re-evaluate the changing situation.
The same thing can happen to pastors. They get hurt and find it hard to trust again. Understandable.
however, must be ongoing in the journey of life. If the apostle Paul
had not re-evaluated John Mark, we would not have the second Gospel.
great preacher Clarence Macartney told this story about Leonardo da
Vinci. The story itself may not be true, but it well illustrates a
Just before da Vinci began work on his famous fresco, The
Last Supper, he quarreled violently with a fellow painter. Da Vinci was
so enraged and bitter he determined that when he painted Judas, he would
model Judas’ face after the face of his enemy. He would get revenge as
future generations looked on Judas’ face with scorn and infamy. The face
of Judas was one of the first he finished, and everyone easily
recognized it as the face of the painter with whom he had quarreled.
last face da Vinci needed to paint was that of Christ; however, he made
no progress. Something baffled him, held him back, and frustrated his
He concluded that the one thing that hindered him
was the fact he had used his enemy’s face when painting Judas. He took
his brush and gave Judas a new face. With ease, he then finished the
face of Christ.
A pastor cannot paint the features of Christ into
his own life while painting the face of another with colors of enmity
Repentance means to change your mind. Some call
repentance the first word of the gospel because it was the message of
John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2), Jesus (Matthew 4:17), the Twelve (Mark
6:12), Jesus after His resurrection (Luke 24:47), Peter (Acts 2:38), and
Paul (Acts 26:20).
Repentance is unilateral. It does not, therefore, wait for another person to first repent.
repentance has nothing to do with one’s feelings. It involves a mindset
change that brings different behavior. Jesus describes in the Sermon on
the Mount how we are to treat our enemy: We are to bless him, go the
extra mile, turn the other cheek, pray for him, and forgive him. None of
these actions require our enemy to do a single thing. All address our
If a pastor waits until he has the right feelings, he
may never forgive. The Lord calls us to repent if we have any attitude
Goldie Bristol wrote a book entitled, These Tears Are for Diane.
A man raped and murdered her 21-year-old daughter. Police found the
perpetrator, and a jury sentenced him to a double-life term.
years later Goldie and her husband Bob concluded, “We can see no other
purpose for his coming into our lives if there is no possibility that he
will be saved.”
They wrote him a letter — not condoning the crime
— but expressing their concern and God’s for him. After two more
letters, they received a reply. The man said he had not realized there
were people in the world anywhere who could place their concern for him
above their own hurt.
“What good does it do to hate?” Goldie
asked. Hate could not bring her daughter back; it would only spread the
poison of anger and unforgiveness in her own life, and it would not have
any effect on her daughter’s killer.
Goldie wrote: “The
dictionary associates malice with malignancy — it eats and consumes and
finally destroys. If I allow it to take hold in my life, I am anything
but a free person. The very tool I would use to get even is the one that
would chain me. Only God is able to handle this kind of treachery in
our lives and release us from the entrapment. So the decision is mine. I
either carry anger, unforgiveness, and resentment around with me, and
break under the load, or hand it over to my Heavenly Father who can bear
Goldie’s insight is not new. Stephen knew the power
of redemptive forgiveness when “he fell on his knees and cried out,
‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’ ” (Acts 7:60). Ultimately,
Stephen’s prayer resulted in Saul’s conversion.