“Love doesn’t keep score of the sins of others.” 1 Corinthians 13:5 MSG
The work it takes to keep track of the wrongs of others has got to be exhausting. Why? Well, because its unforgiveness and unforgiveness is sin that you carry around with you and that makes it baggage. And an ugly carry on at that. This is not how God intends for us to live as we travel through this life. After all, Christ came so we all can live free and forgiven so who are we to withhold forgiveness from others?
Forgiveness is a Commandment
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
Forgiveness is a nonnegotiable. We are commanded to extend forgiveness towards others. That doesn’t mean we negate consequences and punishments, it just means we release this person from continuous debt towards us. We choose not to carry around an offense and so we don’t have to go around continuously condemning, putting down, or reminding ourselves or someone else of their short comings or failings.
We Forgive as We Have been Forgiven
“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25 ESV
It is important to God that we extend forgiveness towards others. After all look at the sacrifice Christ made so that it were possible for we ourselves to be forgiven. And we don’t even deserve it. If a loving God can come to earth and put on the flesh of fallen man and give up his life dramatically so that our sins can be forgiven and our lives can be spared who are we to deny our fellow man. Again, I’m not saying this is easy, we know that even Christ was overwhelmed with what he had to face at Calvary but because He obeyed saying “Not my will but yours be done.” and overcame we know that it is “through Christ all things are possible.”
Am I Harboring Unforgiveness?
There are a few ways to tell if you are still holding on to resentment and unforgiveness in your heart. Here are just a few.
- Do you still seek or wish for revenge?
- Are you unable to speak to or treat the offender kindly and respectfully.
- Are you still waiting on them to “apologize first.”
- Do you still re-live the offense (emotionally, imaginatively, constantly sharing it with others)
- Do you bring up the offense (whether in conversation or heated arguments) despite having claimed to have already forgiven the offender.
This list is in no way close to exhaustive, these are just a few ways I’ve been able to spot unforgiveness in my life.
I continue to stress this because I have been hurt before in some really deep ways, so I know that forgiving someone you trusted, relied on, or maybe you barely even knew can still hurt more than an “I’m sorry” can ever fix. Forgiveness, in many instances, is a process that has to be walked out with God. We may want to know why they did this, how could they, we may even question our own value and sanity, but when we cling to and hold on to what we do know we begin to find comfort in knowing that we may never know why but God does. We may not ever understand how, but God does. We may never get an apology, recognition or acknowledgement of our pain from our offenders but guess what friend? In the middle of the night when life hurts the worst God is right there whispering to you,
“Son, Daughter I’m sorry this happened to you. I know that this hurts you and I know this pain feels like it will last an eternity, but Ive lived longer than time and I can tell you that it doesn’t last forever. there is joy in the morning, there is healing and rest for your heavy heart and burdened soul. There is hope and there is a future that still awaits for you, just look up and trust me.”
God wants to be a part of your healing, and the first step of that process is letting go of the poison and the pain that’s keeping you sick. And that is unforgiveness.
Here are some ways t begin to forgive and begin to heal:
- Confess it to God: Let it all out, vent your hurt pain and frustrations to God. He knows it all anyways. By sharing them with Father you clean out your heart and you make room for God to restore your soul
- Seek counsel: Some things can be sorted out in a day, others may be deeper and more significant and must be dealt with appropriately under the wisdom and counsel of either a trusted leader, fellowship, counselor or therapist. If you got hit by a car and broke your leg you would go to a doctor to make sure its tended too and heals properly, the same principle applies to the healing of your heart. Trust me there is no shame in being healthy mind body and soul!
- Get support: There’s nothing like community that heals you on a totally different level. I don’t know how many times I’ve felt down or disappointed, called a trusted friend, had a chat and my perspective had shifted 180 degrees. A good support group can be there to hold you up when your down and let you know when you are holding on to things that will just weigh you down.
- Choose freedom: Its so sad and frustrating to me to see people who choose a life of unforgiveness. I feel bad for them because its as if they said “Nope I choose to walk around in these stinky rags and rugged chains because they hurt me.” Meanwhile the person whom your mad at either doesn’t even know you have an issue or perhaps if they do and they don’t care, or at some point, after apologizing so many times have had to make the choice to go on with their lives. Forgiveness is not for the other person, forgiveness is for you. Like I’ve heard it said many times before, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Just doesn’t work that way friends. Choose to be free.
- Have you ever struggled with forgiving someone who has really offended or hurt you? If so, how did you overcome and begin to forgive them?
- Are there any areas in your life where you feel like you are still in bondage to unforgiveness?
- What are some other ways, other then the ones listed, that you have found to live a life of forgiveness?