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TITUS 2:3-5
(Forgiveness - A Next Level Experience)
Col. 3:13
Betty J. Winters

Before beginning this discussion, I hope that each of you had a Glorious Christmas and will be fruitful in this New Year of beginnings.

In the last issue, I emphatically stated that if we want to be great encouragers, we must first accept one another. Now, I want to infiltrate your minds (younger women as well as the older woman) and ask you to go to the next level and practice forgiveness as another major way of encouraging. When you have a forgiving spirit, it will become your path to freedom. The Apostle Paul reminds us in Col. 3:13 with these words,"Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another, even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do." When someone comes seeking your forgiveness, you have an obligation to grant forgiveness regardless of the number of times you have been offended. I have spoken with younger women as well as older women who are struggling with forgiving husbands, children, and friends.

I am aware that for the person who has been deeply wounded, (I have experienced this struggle) forgiveness might be difficult. However, I need to remind you because God has forgiven us, He expects us to forgive each other. We need only remember that forgiveness is an act of obedience to God (Matt. 6:14; Eph. 4:32; Lk 17:3,4). Love is the prime ingredient in forgiveness (Prov. 10:12) and forgiveness comes with the removal of past offenses from the mind (Phil. 3:13).

The older woman should strive to be an Abigail to the younger woman. Abigail was not a woman with a vengeful spirit. She had learned how to forgive and even live with a arrogant and surly man. If Abigail had not had a forgiving spirit, she could not have become an encourager to save David from taking revenge on her husband, Nabal. David declared his gratefulness to her when he said,"Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! And blessed is your advice and blessed are you, because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand." (I Sam.25: 32-33)

It is the older woman's duty to encourage and give sound advice to the younger woman to not take"things in her own hand." However, if we have not forgiven, it will be difficult to enter into a nurturing relationship with a younger woman to encourage and equip her to live so that God will be glorified. Be an encourager and help her pull out the roots of bitterness because of past offenses and help her move on to new horizons in the grace of God.

Another classic example of forgiveness is Stephen. He prayed for those who tormented him and even prayed that God would forgive them. This took some"looking up" on Stephen's part. We will never, as older women, be able to encourage the younger woman to forgive unless we look toward Heaven and support and encourage her to look in the same direction.

Remind the younger woman that she will grow if she does not let an unforgiving spirit stifle her growth. Abigail's outward beauty is not the reason she became an example for us to emmulate, but her inward beauty that housed a forgiving spirit.

Because we are forgiven, we must forgive. A forgiving attitude does not excuse self, (Gen. 3:12), defend self (Gen 3:10), or accuse another (Gen 3:13), but a forgiving spirit brings good to yourself (Prov. 11:17) and to others (15:23).