This month I feel to write on the ABSOLUTE NECESSITY of pursuing the ability to forgive. In my family line, there was a strong pre-disposition to bitterness and unforgiveness. My dad and one of his brothers went to the grave without mending their bridges. Maybe your family has a history like this.
Unforgiveness can cripple our lives and prevent us from reaching our God given potential. It is a poison that permeates every fibre of our being – our thoughts, emotions, actions and speech if not addressed. It is well documented as a major cause mental and physical illness. This journey called life, is an ongoing opportunity to forgive and be forgiven. Most of us have experienced disappointment, loss of expectation, even serious betrayal or have been misunderstood or misrepresented. We also have disappointed others. Sometimes we justify our failings as being less than those of another. The Bible says we ‘have ALL fallen short of the glory of God’. NONE of us are blameless or without flaws.
FORGIVENESS IS FREEING AND LIBERATING, IT BRINGS PEACE, JOY AND INCREDIBLE CONTENTMENT. All of God’s wisdom is so freely available to us through His Word. It is not for His benefit but ours – to give us a fulfilling and fruitful life.
Working through forgiving someone who we feel has wronged us or hurt us deeply, is a process. With an open humble heart, I wonder if we might ponder together the following Scriptures found in Ephesians 4:26-32 (Amp). ‘When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word or unwholesome or worthless talk (ever) come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing to those who hear it. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God (do not offend, vex or sadden Him), by Whom you were sealed, marked and branded as God’s own. Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper), and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil speaking abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind). Become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving hearted), forgiving one another (readily and freely) as God in Christ forgave you. (Do you see a little of yourself here? I know I do).
Recognizing an angry thought when it tries to engulf you and refusing to indulge it is the first step: then learning how to offer it to God in prayer. Your prayer might simply go something like this, ‘Father God, please help me, I see the anger and bitterness that is in my heart, I see how it is robbing me of peace, and tainting my thinking even ruining my life, please take it all away. By an act of my will, I CHOOSE to forgive, please help me’. (Amen). In answer to that sincere prayer, you may suddenly see the situation from another perspective. You may find your heart is filled with softness as God shows you where the other person is coming from. I had to repeat that prayer often until the release came. FORGIVENESS IS NOT A FEELING, IT IS A CHOICE, AN ACT OF MY WILL AND FEELINGS WILL SURELY FOLLOW! Another helpful key in having victory over unforgiveness, is to immediately replace the angry thought with a kind one, pray blessing over the one who has wounded you so badly, speak well of, ponder on their good qualities and leave them in God’s hands. God and God alone can change a human heart and He can do it in the blink of an eye!
A Scripture that affected me deeply and changed and softened my heart forever is found in 2 Cor 2:7-8 ‘Instead of further rebuke, you should rather turn and graciously forgive and comfort and encourage him, to keep him from being overwhelmed by excessive sorrow and despair. I therefore beg you to reinstate him in your affections and assure him of your love for him’. Oh how this Scripture exemplifies the pure, unconditional love of Christ!
1 Peter 4:8 says, ‘Above all things, have an intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins (forgives and disregards the offenses of others)’, Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up contentions but love covers ALL transgressions.
You might be saying. ‘I’m just not there yet’. I say to you KEEP PERSEVERING! (Those of you who know my life journey will attest I have walked where I am exhorting you to tread). To those of you feeling battle weary, I encourage you today, GET UP ONE MORE TIME! Have faith to believe that ‘HE WHO HAS PROMISED IS FAITHFUL’. When you are weak, HE shows Himself strong on your behalf, He will not fail you or let go of you! Make a decision to PLACE YOUR HAND IN THE HAND OF THE MAN WHO STILLS THE WATERS!
I promise you my precious friend, as we obey, (put into practice) the pearls of wisdom within the pages of this most profound Handbook for Life, the Holy Bible, miraculous things can, will and do happen!
I fervently pray as you read and re-read this, that the Lord bless you and keep you, may He make His face to shine upon you, be gracious unto you, and give you peace.