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Do I really have to forgive?

Updated: Jun 19

When I was teaching in China, I was alone a lot. I watched a lot of videos in the evenings about people's near-death experiences. One really grabbed my attention. A man died, went to Heaven, and met an angel who gave him a brief tour of Heaven.

The man was then taken by the angel to the gates of Hell. It was horrific—beyond your worst nightmare— in every way. The angel told the man if the books on his life were closed at that moment, that is where he would spend eternity. The man was horrified. He pleaded—"But I am a Christian. How is this possible?" The angel said, "Because you have not forgiven your wife, God cannot forgive you." I instantly chose to forgive everyone who ever hurt me. Clever me.

Matthew 6:12-15 says,"And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. My brother Laurence told this story at his Bible Study. It happened in a village deep in the heart of Africa.

Imagine a small mud hut village way out in the Kenyan countryside. A mother was busy preparing lunch. She hadn't noticed that her three-year-old daughter left her circle of friends and wandered over to the edge of the village because something caught her interest. At that moment, some sixth sense caused the mother to look up to see her daughter slowly walking towards a huge black mamba. (The photo really is a black mamba--one of the deadliest snakes in the world).

The mother screamed at her child, "ABSCO! ABSCO! STOP! STOP!" She ran over to her daughter and pulled her away from the snake. "Keep away from that thing", she screamed. "It will kill you!" The men of the village heard the screams, came running and dealt with the snake. Did the little girl know she is in mortal danger? (Obviously not) Now in this allegory, you are the little girl. Jesus is the mother, and unforgiveness is the black mamba. You are walking towards unforgiveness: Jesus is stopping you and tearing you away. The little girl doesn't know the danger she is in but the mother knows. The mother saves the life of her darling girl and warns her about the danger of the black mamba so she will not go near it in the future. The mother's words are a severe warning--the most loving thing she can do to protect her child.

When you forgive someone you set a person free—you! What if the person who offends you never apologizes? Do you still have to forgive them? Well, where do you want to spend eternity? Blessings, Beloved of God.

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