A woman came into a pastor’s office complaining that his sermons were always about forgiveness and grace. She scolded him, “You need to come down harder on the sinners and nail them!” The pastor asked her, “So you have forgiveness and grace all worked out in your own life?” She replied, “There are some things you can’t turn loose of, things that don’t deserve grace or forgiveness. That’s just the way it is in my family.” She leaned and continued, “Forgiveness is not an option. I’ve been hurt too much.”

The resentment and bitterness was deeply embedded in this woman. The result was her spiritual life was powerless and trapped in the wilderness. A lack of forgiveness turned her into a critical, judgmental woman. The pastor summed her up, she wanted to make everyone else as miserable as she was.

Sadly she represents too many of us who have been jaded by other people’s and behavior. It is difficult to let go of our pain. But holding onto it results in the joy of God’s grace eluding us. Psychologists say we tend to judge others by their actions, but ourselves by our intentions. Jesus calls us to extend to others the same forgiveness, understanding and compassion we extend to ourselves.

To overcome the bondage of un-forgiveness requires repentance. Repentance is more than self-flagellation, regret, or deep sorrow for our past sins. It literally means a change of mind. Repentance transforms our life plan, ethics, and actions as we begin to see the world through God’s eyes, rather than ours. Repentance is the basic requirement to be a Christian. The message of the O.T. prophets, John the Baptist and the first and last thing Jesus said! Repentance is an inescapable consequence of conversion and regenerating the new you. Repentance is not a onetime event, but a continual state of mind. Without a continuing repentant attitude-a persistent desire to turn away from our own nature and seek God’s nature, Christianity is impossible.

–By Rev. Dr. William Lewis