While February is recognized as the month of love, John 3:16 sheds light on the greatest love ever known to mankind – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” This love story culminates on the cross at Calvary where Christ died for our sins. Our guilt precipitated the need for forgiveness. As followers of Christ, forgiveness is to be our hallmark. Yet numerous Christians remain shackled to the chains of unforgiveness.
Myths surrounding forgiveness keep many bound to their past. Some are unable to forgive because they hold to the belief that forgiveness means the offender is not guilty. Roman 5:8 says, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Forgiveness was given because we were guilty. Unforgiveness keeps the wound of the offence fresh and gives the perpetrator victory you. Lewis B. Smedes stated, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” You have a duty to forgive in spite of an offender’s guilt and/or lack of repentance. God will hold them accountable for their actions.
Forgiveness does mean you have to reconcile with the offending party. While the Bible commands us to forgive (Mark 11:25), it does not say we must reconcile with the person. Romans 12:18 says, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Sometimes it is not possible to reconcile with the other person as in a case of domestic violence.
Another popular myth is that we must forgive and forget. I do not know about you, I can forgive, but I find it impossible to forget. I have heard people say God forgives and forgets. God is omniscient which means He is all-knowing. If God were to forget our sins, He would not be God. Rather, God chooses not to bring them up again. Forgiveness is both an event and a process. Once you make the decision to forgive someone, it is a process to let go of all the emotional baggage tied to the event. Like God, you must choose not to revisit the wrong again.
The Bible is replete with scriptures on our duty to forgive. We are commanded to forgive “everyone” (Mark 11:25). Jesus taught His disciples to forgive when they asked Him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:4). One of Jesus’ last seven words as He hung dying on the cross was, “Father forgive them” (Luke 23:34). Colossians 3:13 instructs us to forgive others as we have been forgiven. Scripture implies there is no wrongdoing beyond forgiveness. It is impossible to love God any more than you are willing to forgive those who have offended you.
There is power and blessings in forgiveness. Forgiveness allows God to heal you in such a way that while you do not forget the experience, over time the pain and significance of the event lessens. Joseph had ample reason to hold a grudge against his brothers for their harsh treatment of him. Yet Genesis 50:15-21 shows evidence that Joseph had forgiven his brothers as demonstrated by his compassion toward them. You know you have truly forgiven someone when you can have compassion for them, they no longer occupy your thoughts constantly, and you do not react in the same manner when they try to press your buttons.
Mark 11:22-26 implies that faith and forgiveness empower your prayers to get through to God. Could it be that some of your prayers remain unanswered because you still harbor unforgiveness in your heart against someone? Ask God to reveal who you need to forgive. Ask God to forgive you and pray for guidance. Give up thoughts of retaliation. Let God handle the offender in His way and in His time. You do yourself an injustice when you remain unforgiving. The greatest blessing of forgiveness is that it brings you closer to God.
Sometimes we need help to process things that have taken place in our lives. Proverbs 11:14 says, “In the multitude of counselors there is safety.” God has placed counselors in the body of Christ to come alongside to help us process past experiences. I encourage you to avail yourself of the help that God makes available. Please drop me a line if you need resources to contact.
In the Greek “forgive” means to let go. Now is the time to make the decision to shed the weight of unforgiveness. Do yourself a favor and forgive so you can move on and live the life you were created to live. You have too much living to do to remain stuck any longer in a past offence.
Until next time…Be blessed!
Rev. Cynthia Jackson, Rhema Inspirations