Getting set free – these words have a special meaning to you in prison. However, do you know that getting set free in the spirit is much more important than getting set free in the flesh? God wants you set free in the spirit.
Actually if you know Christ, you are a lot freer here in prison than many people are in the outside world. You know where to turn when you have problems. So many people on the outside (and in here) don’t have that. Perhaps you will be the one to give them the good news – to tell them about the Jesus who saved you and changed your life!
When we are set free, we don’t have to tell others we are Christian. They know it by looking at us. Our faces radiate. We are calm and happy even in the midst of difficulties. We have our needs met and are able to help others.
I want that. Like all of you, I am working toward it.
Forgiveness is Imperative
Jesus called us to love Him and to love one another. We can’t love as long as we have unforgiveness in our hearts! God’s Word says, “If we don’t forgive others, God can’t forgive us.” Many Christians think that they have forgiven but they haven’t truly forgiven.
Here are some tests. If you think of that person kindly, want to be with them, want to do things for them, then you have forgiven them. If you don’t want to think about them or face them, if you can’t talk to them or look them in the eye, you haven’t forgiven them.
What is the secret of forgiveness? First, it takes God’s power to forgive. It goes against every grain we have to forgive someone who hurt us. Secondly, you can’t just say I forgive so and so. You must be specific. You must forgive them for everything they did, everything they said. You must even forgive them for the thoughts you thought were going through their minds when the incident occurred.
Every affront is a stronghold in your mind and it must be removed. Otherwise it will fester inside you and you will remember every detail for 50 years. I’m sure you know some older person who is still lamenting an ancient hurt and can still describe it in minute detail.
Removing the Strongholds
One way of getting rid of these thoughts is to write them down. Write down what the other person said and did to hurt you and write down how you felt about it. Write down every thought that comes into your mind about the person and the situation, even if it takes pages. Then give the whole situation to God. Rip up the paper and throw it away. Pray for the person and forgive them for every item on your list.
You need to do this even if the person is dead. The thoughts are still alive and still hurting you. They are holding you back from God’s best. Ask God to bring to mind those whom you need to forgive. Do the same for each person and each incident that stands out in your mind.
There is one area of forgiveness that is less obvious. All of us have hurt others. As Christians we know that God has forgiven us. But we often can’t forgive ourselves. God wants us to be set free in this area also. Ask God to show you where you haven’t forgiven yourself for past deeds. Remember: whom the Son sets free is free indeed! (John 8:36) Let us pray.
Dear Father –
Help me to forgive the persons who have hurt me.
Give me a pure understanding heart in regard to these people.
Wipe away my pain.
Help me also to forgive myself for those whom I have hurt.
You died for my sins. I am truly forgiven.
Let me to accept this forgiveness and show others how to achieve it.
Thank you Lord for setting me free.
DLH – May 31, 1995
Shirley, MA, Medium Security Prison