Have you ever thought about how you want to age? Maybe that’s a weird question, but it’s something that I think about all too often. And I’m not talking about aging physically. How do you want to age emotionally? Spiritually? Mentally? What kind of person do you want to be when you’re 70, 80, or 90?
One of the things that I’m terrified of becoming is a bitter old man. It’s one thing to be crotchety (which I already am!). It’s another thing to be spiritually poisonous. I don’t want to become the grandpa whose kids and grandkids don’t want to be around because he’s always complaining, cutting others down, or is consistently expressing bitterness and negativity.
I learned a long time ago that the key to aging well is learning to forgive. Not only does forgiving others improve our spiritual state, but it’s being proven to increase our physical health, as well. When we forgive someone, we let go of the need to be paid back, to come out ahead, or to be proven right. Forgiveness uproots the saplings of bitterness. Learning to forgive quickly and thoroughly prevents the development of bitterness because you have let go of the things that bitter people hold onto.
But you might be thinking, “That sounds wonderful, but you have no idea what that person did to me.” That’s true. I don’t. But God does. God knows all the sinful things that every person has done, whether it’s the things you’ve done to others, or the things others have done to you. And he has forgiven all of them at the cross of Jesus.
Paul tells us in Colossians 3:13, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” With his dying breath, Jesus cried out on the cross, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” What a dramatic moment of forgiveness, and what a breadth of forgiveness he has offered! This is the example for us. This is how we are to forgive, with radical disregard for our own rights.
With radical forgiveness comes radical freedom. Freedom from bitterness. Freedom from emotional bondage. Freedom from sin. Don’t let the sins of others bind you to sins of your own. Don’t let your heart become embittered. Forgive, as the Lord forgave you.