The Face of Forgiveness

“As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” – Colossians 3:13 ESV

Jacob was about to have a face-to-face confrontation with his older brother, and he was scared to death.

When they were younger, Jacob tricked Esau into selling his birthright (his inheritance). He also deceived their father, Isaac, into pronouncing an irrevocable blessing on Jacob’s life that was intended for Esau. Because of what Jacob had done, Esau vowed revenge. According to Genesis 27:41 (NLT), “Esau hated Jacob because he had stolen his blessing,” and he said to himself, “My father will soon be dead and gone. Then I will kill Jacob.” When Rebekah, their mother heard of Esau’s plan, she urged Jacob to leave the area. Jacob took her advice and stayed away for a long time.

Many years passed. When Jacob planned to return home, he sent messengers to inform his brother of his coming. The messengers returned to Jacob with the news that Esau was coming to meet him, followed by an army of 400 men! Jacob panicked. He immediately formulated a plan. He divided his household, along with the flocks and herds, into two camps, thinking, “If Esau attacks one group, perhaps the other can escape (Genesis 32:8 NLT).”

Jacob must have trembled with fear when he saw Esau in the distance, moving toward him with his entourage. How would Esau react? What would he do? Was Jacob about to witness the annihilation of his whole family?

What happens next is shocking. The Bible says Jacob approached Esau and bowed before him seven times. Esau RAN to Jacob and embraced him. Both men were overcome with emotion. Notice what Jacob said to his brother: “What a relief it is to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the smile of God (Gen. 33:10 NLT)!”

Esau’s countenance radiated joy, peace, mercy, and . . . forgiveness. No longer was Esau filled with hate. No longer was his heart poisoned by anger and bitterness. Esau’s face reflected God’s love and was evidence of his changed heart.

Is there anyone in your life you need to forgive? Maybe you have sensed the Holy Spirit whispering, “It’s time,” but you’ve been unwilling. The hurt is too deep, the pain almost unbearable. Yet, you can’t ignore God’s command to forgive, for when you forgive, you are the one who is healed. You’re the one who is set free.

Release that person or painful situation to the Lord. Let the light of God’s love push out the darkness that remains in your heart. Give it all to your Savior so your face and your life can shine brightly for Him.