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 manifests at Calvary with Christ’s sacrifice for man’s sins. Our guilt necessitated the need for forgiveness in order for man to be reconciled back to God. As Christ’s followers, forgiveness is to be our hallmark. Yet numerous Christians remain bound in the chains of unforgiveness.
Myths surrounding forgiveness keeps many Christians chained to their past. They refuse to forgive because they hold to the belief that forgiveness means the perpetrator isn’t guilty. Unforgiveness keeps the wound of offence fresh. Lewis B. Smedes stated, “To forgive is to set the prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” As Christians, we have a duty to forgive in spite of the offender’s guilt. God will hold the wrongdoer accountable for their behavior. You’re accountable for what you hold in your heart.
Forgiveness doesn’t require reconciliation with the offending party. The Bible commands us to forgive. It doesn’t mandate reconciliation with the other person. Romans 12:18 says, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Sometimes it’s not possible to reconcile with the other party as in the case of domestic violence.
Another popular myth is that we’re required to forgive and forget. I’ve heard people say God forgives and forgets and so should we. God is omniscient which means He’s all-knowing. He knows everything about everything. It’s impossible for God to forget anything. If God were to forget our sins, He wouldn’t be God. Rather, God chooses not to bring our sins up again. Forgiveness is both an event and a process. Once you make the decision to forgive someone, it’s a process to let go of all the emotional baggage tied to the offence. Like God, you must choose not to revisit the wrong.
The Bible is replete with scriptures regarding forgiveness. In Mark 11:25 we’re instructed that if we have ought against anyone, we’re to forgive them. When asked to teach them how to pray, Jesus told His disciples that forgiveness is a crucial component of prayer (Luke 11:4). One of Jesus’ last seven words on the cross was, “Father forgive them” (Luke 23:34). Colossians 3:13 instructs us to forgive others as we’ve been forgiven. Scripture implies there’s no wrongdoing that’s beyond forgiveness. It’s impossible to love God any more than you’re willing to forgive those who’ve hurt you.
There’s power and blessings in forgiveness. Forgiveness allows God to heal you in such a way that while you don’t forget the experience, the pain and significance lessens over the course of time. You know you’ve forgiven someone when the person no longer consumes your thoughts. You don’t react the same way when they press your buttons. And you can demonstrate compassion towards them.
Mark 11:22-26 implies that faith and forgiveness empowers your prayers. Forgiveness opens the channel of communication and allows your prayers to get through to God. Could it be that some of your prayers remain unanswered because you harbor unforgiveness in your heart? Give up thoughts of retaliation. Allow God to handle the person in His way and His time. You do yourself an injustice when you refuse to forgive the offender. The greatest blessing of forgiveness is that it brings you closer to God!
Sometimes we need help processing things that took place in our past. 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 process past traumatic experiences. If you find it difficult to forgive someone, I encourage you to avail yourself of the help God has made available to you. Please drop me a line if you’re in need of a counseling resource.
In the Greek “forgive” means to let go. There’s too much purpose and promise on your life to remain chained to your past any longer. Now is the time to make the decision to let go and shed the weight of unforgiveness. Do yourself a favor and make the choice to forgive so you can move forward and live a fulfilled life!
Until next time…Be blessed!
Rev. Cynthia Jackson, Rhema Inspirations
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