Do you know someone who has done something terribly wrong? Maybe it is your teenager who was caught drinking or fooling around. Maybe it is someone you thought was a friend who has slandered you behind your back? Or it may be your husband who has crushed your heart with his harsh words in the heat of an argument. Now they come, head hung in shame. But inside, you are still smoldering. You are afraid if you open your mouth the volcano of emotions will erupt. What do you do?
Take a look at what Samuel did with the people of Israel.
“And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.” 1Samuel 12:20-24
First- call them back to God. (vs.20)
Second- instruct them to repent before God and change their ways. (vs 21)
Third – Assure them a that God will not forsake them if they go to Him with a contrite heart. (vs 22)
Fourth- and this is the biggie – reassure them that you will also never stop praying for them. Because to not forgive and to harbor ill feelings would lead you into sin. (vs.23)
Healing begins at the foot of the cross. If possible, go there together in prayer. But even if they will not yet come, you need to go. The Lord’s Prayer asks God to forgive us as we forgive others. Forgiveness is not condoning. You are not sweeping their bad judgment or hurtful acts under the rug. You are removing the negative, reactive emotions from your shoulders, the ones that are threatening to make you stumble as well, so you can lead them back into a right relationship with you and with God.
As Matthew West sings – it may be the hardest thing you do and the last thing on your mind, but pray to God to help you give what He gave to you on the cross – take a listen: (you can click to skip the commercial)