January 8

Written by Bill Grandi on January 8th, 2024

Forgiveness…it goes both ways. By saying that I’m not saying forgiveness happens when I forgive someone and they either forgive me or reconciliation takes place. No. I’m going in another direction.

First, there is vertical forgiveness. This is the forgiveness we receive from God-initially and ongoing. Forgiveness for sin in the process of salvation, and then forgiveness on a daily basis as a result of the continual need for it.

But I think the hardest just might be horizontal forgiveness. Forgiving others. Being forgiven.  It is the former I am interested in today. Sometimes someone does something to us that rips our soul to pieces. Shakes us to the core.  There is betrayal. Anger. Bitterness. All which can develop as a result. Betrayal is real; anger and bitterness are killers.

Let me explain. Without details let’s just suffice it to say that several years ago the church I pastor was the victim of a crime. A substantial one. The leaders of the church chose forgiveness rather than prosecution and restitution. I was part of that leadership and even today would not change a thing. While there were some people who were extremely upset at our decision, the choice was made. We have never looked back wondering, “What if..?” Plus, God has been so phenomenally good to us there is no way we made the wrong decision.

There are those who were wanting vengeance. I chose forgiveness and with that freedom. I’m convinced that the person who carries around or holds onto bitterness and hatred has the problem. I believe that to refuse forgiveness or to hold a grudge makes that person a slave to the one their anger and bitterness is directed at. To put it succinctly, they own me. If they enter my thoughts and dreams, influence my attitude or I find myself tying up in knots at the mere mention of that person’s name or presence, they own me.  By God’s grace, I refuse to allow that. I belong to Him, the ONE who forgave on the cross, not that other person. He is the same ONE who said that if I have been forgiven I must forgive as well.

I laid to rest many years ago any hard feelings, ill will, vengeance, bitterness, or anger the enemy of my soul would want me to have. I refuse to play the devil’s game.

Today I lay to rest that perpetrator. The family asked if I would conduct the funeral. I, of course, said yes.


8 Comments so far ↓

  1. Totally a WWJD compassionate thing you are doing today, Bill. Prayers for all.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      Thank you Pam and being a pastor’s wife you know there are moments where that is a must.

  2. gail says:

    Absolutely true words Bill. Forgiveness and grace seems like a hard thing to offer when you have been really hurt or wronged. However, like you said, not coming to terms with forgiveness right away, just piles on the damaged and hurt, and brokenness, it does so much more damage to hold on to bitterness and hatred. Prayers for you today Bill, for the right heart and words for the funeral.

  3. This is quite the testimony, Bill, to the power of forgiveness to heal and restore, if not the party who instigated the hurt, but the one who endured the hurting. When we fail to forgive others, we heap blazing coals on our own heads.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      That’s the truth about that Martha. The other person may not even know that forgiveness but I know what it did for my heart and soul..and the church’s. we have seen God do amazing things here financially and I link a lot of it back to our choice to forgive. (And I’m not talking about the health/wealth stuff).

  4. Cheryl says:

    Wow! What a story, Pastor Bill! I trust the funeral service went well. To me, unforgiveness is just plain not worth the inward torment. It is SO much easier to let it go and stop obsessing over it. What is done is done and can never be undone. Maybe I am selfish, but I simply do not want to feel miserable inside, and I find great freedom in letting it go.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      It was quite a testimony at the time Cheryl and still is. I’m with you. The emotional baggage of unforgiveness is not worth it. And I don’t that is selfish.