The Biggest Blessing Barrier
by Jeff Bloomfield
Recently, I was speaking to a large group at an event in Chicago. The ballroom where the event was held was incredibly hot and seemed to be getting warmer by the minute. There was a place in my talk where I had the audience watch a video. I decided to duck out and tell the meeting planning team about the temperature. When I asked the nice lady in charge to please lower the temperature, she replied that a few people in the audience had complained earlier in the day that it was too cold in the room. Well, being pressed for time and already under the normal stress of speaking to a large audience, I disrespectfully shot back to her, “I get it but I’m the speaker and I’m burning up on the stage so please lower the temperature!”
Have you ever said something in the moment and in a way that you wish you could just reel back in? That was certainly the case here. I knew I had disrespected her and due to lack of time, I had to rush back in and onto the stage to continue. Now, the me of ten years ago may have went on about my business prideful and oblivious to the exchange and its potential impact on her. Thankfully for the me of today, it really bothered me…even as I continued my talk.
After I finished, I purposely sought her out and asked her if I could talk with her a minute. She agreed and by the look on her face, did so apprehensively. I think she was expecting me to lay into her again and essentially scold her for not having the temperature the way I wanted it. Instead, I told her that I should have never spoken to her with the disrespectful tone I did and that I was genuinely sorry. I told her she didn’t deserve that and had done a fantastic job of organizing and executing an amazing event. I then paused and said the magic words. “Will you please forgive me?”
Her entire body language changed and a large smile ran across her face. She said, “Of course I will. I understand exactly how you feel and I don’t blame you for bringing it to my attention.” As it turns out, I have spoken for this group two more times since this episode and she has been in charge of each event. We laugh and joke about it now and she bends over backwards to ensure I have everything just the way I want it and I go out of my way to ensure she gets credit for doing and amazing job on the event.
Forgiveness does more than just make you feel better. I believe it unlocks a huge door to your ability to bless and be blessed. In Psalm 32, David comes right out of the gate with his emotional realization of forgiveness.
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
When we receive forgiveness from God through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, it should compel us to be as quick to forgive others as the Father was to forgive us. In fact, Jesus himself tells us good news/bad news in Matthew 6:14-15 right after what we know as the “Lord’s Prayer”.
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
This should really make us stand up and take notice. Forgiveness is something that God commands and demands of us. When we walk in a spirit of forgiveness of others, not only does that trigger God’s ongoing willingness to forgive us but it opens up the blessing He may have in store for us.
Keep in mind, forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation. Sometimes, that takes a lot longer and is certainly a longer discussion than a blog post.
I confess that I have spent a large majority of my life withholding forgiveness from others at times as a way to “punish” them for not meeting my needs or standards. It only caused me more pain and blocked my ability to allow God to heal and be healed.
Who in your life are you withholding forgiveness from? Why? I encourage you to pray about it and ask God to reveal to you who and why you may need to forgive. Even if you don’t believe they deserve it. After all, as we find in Romans 5:8, God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
With that as our barometer for forgiveness, how could we not forgive?