I have been getting some great feedback and questions regarding the blogs on forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of those issues that is so misconstrued and turned over and around that people have a hard time knowing what forgiveness really looks like.
True forgiveness is found only in the character of God and that forgiveness came only at the cost of Jesus pouring out His life to obtain our forgiveness. That is real forgiveness and God modelled it for us.
Humans really struggle with this concept of forgiveness. What are the words that entangle themselves around forgiveness that we think are connected to it?
-Do you know what they did (unfair)
-They should pay
-They are not sorry
I do not pretend to be an expert on forgiveness, ask my husband and kids! However, I have had to deal with some incredible hurts and wounds over the years so I have had to study this issue fairly intensely if I was going to be able to walk freely and not be bound to bitterness.
Bitterness is the result of unforgiveness. It is our choice to forgive or not forgive. It is a command in the Bible, not a suggestion and it comes with consequences, but in reality it is totally your choice if you chose to forgive or not and it is totally your choice that you live in the consequences.
Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
We think God will forgive us for not forgiving others because “He knows” what that other person did to me and after all I am “His Child”; we could not be further from the truth.
I know for me, when I was living in a state of unforgiveness for many years, I was hard. Anyone could see that there was something wrong, I did not carry my unforgiveness silently – my body, my words, my language, it comes out. The person bound in a lot of unforgiveness is usually hard to live with, deal with and be with, I was. It is quite evident to others around you that there is something wrong, even if you think you are hiding it well. The consequence is if we stuff the pain down or carry it around with us, it is still there, even if you block it out of your memory.
It never goes away and trust me when I tell you it will come back out and possibly in some very unhealthy ways.
When I was at a course in the USA many years ago, the speaker said he believes that 80% of sickness and disease have a spiritual root as the cause and of that 80%, many of the diseases are caused by unforgiveness. In my ministry of working with people, I too have found this to be true. Unforgiveness wreaks havoc on our body, minds and relationships, it blocks our communication with God so we cannot hear Him or sense His presence.
Two of the dire consequences of unforgiveness are sickness and God not forgiving your sins. If those two are not bad enough, the other is broken relationships with people, that comes with isolation, rejection and loneliness. It is not sounding like a nice way to live and trust me because I was there – it is not.
Unfortunately it is a prison that I/you put yourself into and only I/you can break yourself out.
What exactly is forgiveness: Forgiveness is an act between you and God. It does not involve the other person in any way.
I hope you heard that, forgiveness does not involve the other person in any way.
It is bringing the event that occurred (singular or reoccurring) before God, telling God and only God what it was, how you felt and what it did to you. Let it ALL out! Yell, scream, cry, God can handle it!
For each event you will have to consider if you need to forgive the other person, God and yourself – most of the time it is at least 2 and often all 3 for each event. Forgive daily, keep short accounts, do not let bitterness and hate creep into your body.
Pray out loud:
God….. when so and so did this………..I felt ……………. It left me…………. Be REAL! God can handle it, tell Him all your thoughts, revenge and other items that have been plaguing you.
Now we turn the pain, the emotions and the person over to God.
God… I chose to forgive so and so……..right now I give my hurt and pain over to you. I forgive them from this moment on, please help me to do this.
Now the really hard part Matthew 5:44 "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those ..."
I ask that you Bless so and so and I leave them in your hands. Amen
There were a couple of times in my life that I did not think I could ever forgive, I really didn’t. Sometimes I had to pray to be willing/the want to, other times I had the want to but I did not have the ability. It was at one of those times where God whispered to me:
“Of course you can’t, but if you would let Me, I can do it through you.”
I had to lay down my right to myself and let the Holy Spirit of God who was living in me do the actual forgiving. Once I opened my fist from the tight ball I was holding this person in, prying each finger open one at a time, I was able to ask God to forgive that person through me. He did and the instant freedom was astounding.
God NEVER asks us to do something that He will not supply the grace and strength for us to do, never.
In our own understanding it does not seem like the right thing to do, forgiving that other person for what they did but essentially it is evil and a sin to hold on to it. Good thing God says do not be wise in your own eyes.
Read more about forgiveness in part 2 next week where we talk about: trust, reconciliation and more...