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During my teenage years, a close friend did something very hurtful and mean to me. I vowed I would not forgive her. My conversation with my family, other friends and whoever would listen was consumed with my unforgiving attitude toward this friend. 

One day, my mother spoke to me about my conversations and behavior. She taught me a principle about forgiveness that I will never forget. 

She said: “Anyone who has offended you and that you have not forgiven controls you. Your mind is consumed with how you might get revenge or how you might cause that person to hurt as much as you hurt.”

“They take power over your life,” she continued, “and guess what—they don’t even know it. No one deserves that much power.” 

My mother prayed with me and asked me to confess my sin of not forgiving this friend. In so doing, she taught me the Matthew 18 principle of forgiveness. I was free!

A group of friends brought a paralytic to Jesus, requesting healing. Everyone looked for the miraculous to occur; instead Jesus’ first response was, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you,” and later, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house” (see Matt. 9:1-8, NKJV). 

Forgiveness of sin is miraculous. But what did Jesus’ responses have to do with their request? 

It’s quite simple, really. Jesus didn’t just see a paralytic. Instead, He saw a man with hidden sin who needed forgiveness. Jesus saw sin that caused brokenness and sorrow. Addressing sin as the source of brokenness and physical pain is the core of Jesus’ work in us, especially as it relates to forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the act of exempting or releasing a guilty party from punishment, the act of extending freedom. Jesus forgives us of our sin; therefore, we must forgive others (see Matt. 6:12).

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. exemplified the power of forgiveness as he led powerfully and non-violently, peacefully with control, during times of social upheaval in this nation.

“Let freedom ring,” the clarion call of Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, was not solely looking to change political laws, but rather focused on the repentance of a nation to her God and His Word. It was about the reconciling of mankind to one another through repentance and forgiveness. 

By: Doretha O’Quinn, PhD, an ordained Foursquare minister, college professor and a member of the Foursquare cabinet.

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is a freelance writer and editor. She lives in Orlando, Fla.