No, I don’t normally carve out time to watch MTV. Yes, I used to watch it - you know, back when MTV (which stands for music television) actually showed MUSIC. Oh yes, I was there at the beginning. I was there on that awesome August 1 night/early morning, when at 12:01 am, the words “Ladies and Gentlemen, rock and roll” - followed by Video Killed the Radio Star…and MTV was launched into existence.
But now I no longer ‘want my MTV,’ because music television has become a Frankenstein like mish mash of yo yo bling bling videos, ‘reality’ shows that are as far from reality as the man on the moon is from planet earth, and a compelling series about finding a BFF for Paris Hilton.
Gee, wonder why I’m not tuned in?
Yet in all the pimp this and Tila Tequila that, I have found one ray of sunshine in the otherwise darkened world of MTV. It’s a new series called "The Paper." Essentially, it is a reality show about a group of high school students who put together the school paper - which at face value sounds about as exciting as watching paint dry - but when you throw together interesting characters, power struggles and personality conflict, you get a great show straight off the presses.
One of the elements that drives the tension in "The Paper" is the continual relationship struggles mixed with power plays, backstabbing, and general teenage angst.
And this is where MTV taught me something about forgiveness.
And what might that be? Well, remove forgiveness from your life and watch the headlines of your life go from bad to worse.
Here are a few examples:
TEEN GIRL HOLDS ON TO BITTERNESS - CAN’T FIND ANY HAPPINESS IN LIFE
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT’S GRUDGE DRIVES EVERYONE AWAY
STUDY SHOWS THAT UNFORGIVING PEOPLE HAVE MORE HEALTH PROBLEMS
Of course if everyone forgave each other (and themselves) on "The Paper," we wouldn’t have all the drama necessary for a popular show.
But do you really need all that drama in your life? That’s why over and over and over again the Bible warns against holding on to things that you should really let go of. In fact, if you are a Christian, you have been forgiven of all your offenses against God - past, present, and future. So when God says to you - “you are completely forgiven” - then you turn around and withhold forgiveness from others, God is definitely not pleased.
How do I know? Check out this story that Jesus told a crowd of unforgiving people:
At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, "Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?"
Jesus replied, "Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.
"The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn't pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.
"The poor wretch threw himself at the king's feet and begged, 'Give me a chance and I'll pay it all back.' Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.
"The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, 'Pay up. Now!'
"The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, 'Give me a chance and I'll pay it all back.' But he wouldn't do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.
"The king summoned the man and said, 'You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn't you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?' The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that's exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn't forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy. “ (Matthew 18:21-35).
Strong words from Jesus about a subject He feels very strongly about. He knows that to be a follower of His and yet a keeper of grudges is the ultimate form of hypocrisy.
So if your life is in a drama state right now, do an attitude check to see if the vile and destructive attitude of unforgiveness is lurking around your soul like a snake looking to poison its next victim. Go to Jesus with your pain and ask Him for the power to let all bitterness, grudges, resentments, and hostility go. Trust me, you’ll find a freedom and peace that you never thought possible. As one author put it:
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you…
Head: Jesus warns against an attitude of unforgiveness because of the hypocritical nature of it, and also because He knows it will destroy our lives.
Heart: One of Satan’s greatest tools to discourage and distract us is an attitude of bitterness. On the other hand, one of the greatest ways to peace and freedom is to let our anger and grudges go.
Hands: Take some time this week to make a list of others that you need to forgive and either in person or through a letter, let them know that you forgive them. It won’t be easy, but you’ll be glad you did!
Lane Palmer is the Youth Ministries Specialist for Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., where he works with to provide resources for youth leaders and students. Dare 2 Share exists to energize and equip teens to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries or the GameDay youth conference tour, please visit www.dare2share.org. Send feedback to [email protected]