Once in awhile, I find myself saying things that dismay me. It shouldn’t be that hard – after all, I am the gatekeeper to my own mouth, right? So how can any words sneak past my lips, that I flinch about too late?

Recently I had that experience – the words were barely off my tongue when I was already regretting them – but, they were too late to take back, and no handy excuse could possibly explain my plain-out rudeness…and it troubled me. In fact, not only did the conviction of my ungracious words haunt me for the rest of the day, they prevented me from sleeping soundly that night.  The next morning, I knew I needed to “make things right” before I did anything else.

I composed an email to the people I had carelessly offended, and did not try to hide behind any excuses because, well, there simply weren’t any. I confessed my rude behavior and told them I was so sorry, humbly asking their forgiveness.  And the guilt started to lift.

I eagerly checked my inbox for their response, praying they would offer me the grace I didn’t deserve, but so desperately needed. When their reply came, it was exactly what a Christ-follower’s words should be: Kind and seasoned with gentleness and compassion. Tremendous relief flooded my heart!

Forgiven! Is there any greater word in the English language than that? It is what God offers all of us sinners who repent and confess our sin to Him, embracing the gift of Jesus for our forgiveness and salvation.

It is what we need to extend to one another when we offend one another. And it gives a palpable relief when it is offered and accepted.

We are reminded in Ephesians 4:1-3, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” and 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

I am so thankful for the work of the Holy Spirit; He guides me, convicting me of my ugly sin when necessary, and helping me do the things I know I ought to do… and what a wonderful feeling when we obey His gentle prodding in our hearts! Freedom from guilt and worry, and freedom to carry on in our calling to follow Jesus, not perfectly, but growingly.

Is there anyone in your life that you need to ask forgiveness from? It is a wonderful feeling when we confess our offenses, seeking forgiveness from those we have hurt. Has someone hurt you and asked your forgiveness and perhaps you’ve resisted offering it, preferring instead to hold them hostage to the guilt they carry? God asks us to forgive as we have been forgiven – freely, quickly, and in all things.

This life isn’t always easy. There are many blocks to stumble over; but God has made a way for us to get back on the right path, following Him. That is where Victory is. Let’s spur one another on to love and forgiveness. And let’s talk…you know – between friends.