Forgiveness throughout the Bible is a prominent theme.
“but – but – but – THEY are or were in the wrong you say?” And perhaps, they were! Or… “I don’t need forgiveness -I’m a good person, I’m not as bad as that person.” O! how we reason with ourselves. But we too must answer to God alone for our sin (2 Cor. 5:10).
Not to minimize anyone’s pain. I know about pain. Indeed, we’ve ALL been hurt! God understands and is with us through our trials, our pain and knows everything about us. This gives me comfort. Knowing this… the following convicts…
Jesus gave us very important commandments to follow; one of them was to love one another, as He has loved us (John 15:12). Love is the exact opposite of unforgiveness, envy, jealousy, hate, pride and bitterness. You can’t truly love somebody and hold bitterness or unforgiveness against him or her at the same time.
Can I just share with you something so powerful because truly, it can set your soul free.
O! how I tormented my own soul because of un- forgiveness for years! I was bitter, depressed, angry with people, with God… inwardly, I knew it. I had a serious attitude about things. Old habits can be hard to break sometimes too.
Until Christ & the Holy Spirit led me into all truth and changed everything in my life to help me walk in the Spirit and resist the lusts of the flesh. Indeed, a daily decision still! I realized it was (mostly) my own poor choices / behaviors that caused this heartache, this un-forgiveness lingering within and I was hell bent on holding onto my own self-righteousness. Gulp!
It’s a humbling realization when you are confronted with God’s Word and boy does He rock our world! His ways are not our ways.
Proverbs 10:12 says: “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.”
I never thought un-forgiveness was hatred, but if you get to the root of it – it is.
What I have learned from this journey of forgiveness…
God in His goodness, justice and righteousness – endured the heinous Cross for me (and you!). Though, our sins be scarlet and they truly are grievous to Him – He died for us! Who does that?
God did. Our Creator sent His Son/Jesus in the flesh.
When I truly understood and accepted this truth and its depth of that action of true love – I knew I needed HIS forgiveness for the way I formerly led my life.
Have you noticed most times – trials, challenges, suffering produces far more character building and seeking hard after God? I’m convinced, it’s supposed to!
Forgiveness requires humility.
This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, (Jer. 9:23)
Thus, that nasty thing called ‘Pride’ holds us hostage.
If we let God love us, change us… He will patiently wait and show us our need for Him – if we aren’t there yet! But don’t take His long-suffering for granted! Because He doesn’t want us to perish without Him. We need to see our human frailty for what it is. Confess our need for Him and repent of sin to get to the place of humility and forgiveness.
Have you fought Him on this? Me too. Many times in my life.
But we mustn’t let bitterness get a foot hold in our hearts. That kind of mindset can and will harden our hearts against hearing the Holy Spirit teach us and prevent the healing we really need. Therefore, we need Christ daily – He’s the only one who has the power to help us overcome sin.
We will know the work of forgiveness is complete when we experience the freedom that comes as a result. We are the ones who suffer most when we choose not to forgive. When we do forgive, the Lord sets our hearts free from the anger and bitterness, resentment and hurt that previously imprisoned us.
Most times, however, forgiveness is a slow process.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
This answer by Jesus makes it clear that forgiveness is not easy. It’s not a one-time choice and then we automatically live in a state of forgiveness. Forgiveness may require a lifetime of forgiving, but it is important to the Lord.
We forgive out of obedience to the Lord because He asks us to. This command is in place for our own good and we receive a reward called freedom! Do you trust the Lord?
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
Some helpful links to combat unforgiveness:
HEALTH RISKS from unforgiveness both biblical and secular views: