Set Free


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Have you ever watched an amazing musician and wondered what it would be like to have the freedom they have with their instrument? Maybe you have seen their hands furiously striking the keys up and down a piano. Maybe you have seen someone who can solo on a guitar as if their fingers have minds of their own. Ability like that did not come easy. There were hours of painful practice to free up their bodies to accomplish the music they wanted. This is similar to how the inner part of our lives operate. There are things that lock us up on the inside, but the pain of building character brings freedom. This is true of forgiveness. We don’t realize how confining bitterness is. We can be enslaved to it. But through the pain of forgiving, we find freedom.

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We know that forgiveness is a good thing. Everyone loves a good story of how two people reconciled their differences and came back together to form an even stronger relationship. It’s the stuff of a good Hallmark movie. But in real life, forgiveness is messy. We know we are supposed to forgive people, but how do we trust again? How do we forgive and not put ourselves into a position to get hurt over and over again? There is a fascinating hidden nugget in the story of Philemon. It is where we get a window into Paul’s own relationships. And through those, we learn that there are different components of forgiveness: Release, Reconcile, and Restore. Knowing these aspects and learning how to apply them to different situations, helps us navigate the messiness of forgiveness.

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Forgiveness can be one of the toughest things to learn to do. When we’ve been hurt and wronged, it is hard to let it go. Some hold on to their unforgiveness for the rest of their lives. But it would be wise to pause and consider this question: Which is harder, forgiving or living with unforgiveness? Holding on to bitterness and anger is costly. It eats away at our emotional health. It can cripple future relationships. It can even take a physical toll on our bodies. So while following Jesus means we will forgive those who wrong us, Jesus is only asking us to do something that is in our best interest. Obedience to Jesus always bring vibrant life. Do we have the courage to obey?