Dealing With Unforgiveness
Countless people have lost their marriages because of anger. They’ve lost their families, their jobs, their business, their health and their spiritual life – all because they allowed unforgiveness, resentment, strife and hateful thoughts to churn deep inside and anger ruled their lives.
James 1:19-20 (NIV) Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
Very often anger is associated with an unforgiving spirit. Many people are angry and don’t even realize it. They just know something’s not right on the inside. They’re deeply frustrated and upset about past wrongs and hurts. They’re mad at what happened yesterday and bitter about things that occurred years ago. What they need is to be set free from the bondage of bitterness and unforgiveness.
Perhaps you are angry with your spouse, a coworker, or a friend. The truth is: we all get mad at one time or another. The question we need to ask ourselves is: How should we deal it?
- If you are NOT a Christian, how is it possible for you to get free of bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness and respond in peace and love to someone who has hurt you?
I do not believe it’s possible for you to forgive others without first knowing that God has forgiven you and that you are no longer in bondage to sin. The first step to real freedom is to become a Christian by embracing the truth of the gospel and receiving Jesus as your Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-10, 13).
If you want God’s forgiveness, admit that you’re a sinner and tell God that you believe Jesus died on the cross to pay your sin debt in full. Call upon the Lord to forgive you and receive the gift of salvation, and He will answer your prayer. I encourage you to call on Him today… By making this decision, God will heal any and all of the emotional wounds you suffered in the past. He will deliver you from anger and help you live with courage and peace. He will equip you with the ability to walk in forgiveness.
- If you are a Christian, then KEEP READING, because it’s important that we learn how to deal with the inevitable wrongs and hurts we suffer in life, and the remedy found throughout God’s Word is forgiveness!
Forgiven People Should Be Forgiving People
When Leonardo da Vinci was painting The Last Supper, he quarreled with a fellow painter and was so outraged that he decided to depict the painter’s face as that of Judas. As the master artist was thinking about how he should render the face of Christ, he experienced a mental blank. He couldn’t bring himself to paint it. He realized that depicting Judas’ face in the likeness of his enemy was holding him back. So he went and reconciled things with the painter and afterward repainted the face of Judas in a nondescript way… then, and only then, could he portray the face of Jesus in his painting.
Jesus taught that when we pray, we should say, “Forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us” (Matthew 6:12 NLT). I believe this verse is saying that if we know anything about the forgiveness of God, we should extend that same forgiveness to others. In other words, forgiven people should be forgiving people. There are no enduring relationships without forgiveness.
Have you ever noticed that the word forgiveness has the little word “give” in it? When you choose to forgive, you give someone a gift… the gift of freedom from having to pay the penalty for offending you… the gift of dismissing the debt owed to you!
Colossians 3:13 (NLT) Forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
It’s your responsibility to let go of the heavy burden and pressure of an unforgiving attitude. Remember, the other person doesn’t have to apologize or change for you to find freedom. Unless we release the people who have wronged us, bitterness and resentment will take root in our lives.
To forgive someone means that you are leaving the offense entirely in God’s hands. By God’s grace you are refusing to harbor hateful feelings toward your offender.
Unforgiveness Is a Spiritual Stronghold
Most believers fight bitterness at times. When we get offended or hurt, it’s natural to be angry. But refusing to forgive shackles our freedom in Christ, stunts our spiritual growth and stops our prayers getting answered!
Are you bitter, nursing past wrongs and hurts or are you choosing to walk the path of forgiveness? Grudge collecting and carrying around a load of unforgiveness is like carrying a sack of cement on your back all day long. If you hold unforgiveness in your heart, you are walking around with a heavy burden that God never intended you to carry. Unforgiveness can turn into an emotional stronghold and baggage that can damage many areas of your life. Just remember…
- Unforgiveness opens the door to Satan in our lives. Forgiveness closes the door to Satan in our lives.
- Unforgiveness is sin and grieves the Holy Spirit. Forgiveness is God’s will and pleases the Holy Spirit.
- Unforgiveness leads us into captivity and darkness. Forgiveness leads us to freedom and into the light.
- Unforgiveness allows a root of bitterness to grow. Forgiveness prevents a root of bitterness from growing.
- Unforgiveness blocks your faith and prayer life. Forgiveness causes your faith to flourish.
Blaming others is a favorite tactic to justify unforgiveness. Often we refuse to forgive because we feel that not forgiving is our payback to our offender. But in truth, unforgiveness tortures us more than it does anyone else. When you refuse to forgive, your unforgiveness keeps you emotionally stuck to both the offense and the offender. A continual refusal to forgive digs a deeper hole in which you can easily hide your hardened heart. However, unforgiveness is a luxury you cannot afford!
Unforgiveness is toxic. Like a poison that spreads throughout our body. We can’t hold onto bitterness toward one person and expect it to harm only one relationship. Like a drop of ink in a glass of water, it eventually spreads and stains our entire being.
Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT) Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
As a believer in Christ, choose the path of love and forgiveness. Choose to change your thinking and consciously ask the Holy Spirit to soften and work in your heart so that you will be willing to forgive others.
Forgiveness Is Not An Easy Thing
The people most likely to hurt us are those closest to us – our spouse, friends, siblings and parents. When we’re hurt by someone we love and trust – whether it’s a lie, betrayal, rejection, abuse or insult – it can be extremely difficult to overcome. These feelings may start out small. But if you don’t deal with them quickly, they can grow bigger and more powerful – and even minor offenses can turn into huge conflicts. No, forgiveness is not an easy thing!
1 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT) Love keeps no record of being wronged.
When we hold on to pain, old grudges, bitterness and even hatred, many areas of our lives are negatively impacted. When we’re unforgiving, then we pay a high price over and over. If we don’t deal with it, then we suffer the consequences – and we may bring our anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience. Our lives can be so wrapped up in the “hurt and pain” that we can’t enjoy the present and our walk with the Lord starts to drift… and drift.
- As a Christian if you are nursing a grudge against someone, you are still saved, however, Jesus said that you are out of fellowship with God (Matthew 6:14-15).
- Forgiveness can be very challenging. The good news is that the Holy Spirit is our supernatural helper and He will assist us the moment we choose to release the offense – the injury – and forgive by a decision of faith (Mark 11:25).
- In Christ, you can forgive others and God will help you. Never are we more like Christ than when we choose to forgive! Forgiveness is giving up resentment against someone else, along with your right to get even, no matter what has been done to you.
The Three Things You Should Know About Forgiveness
Forgiveness is not a natural “human” response – it is a supernatural “divine” response, empowered by the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit of forgiveness in your heart. To forgive is to reflect the character of Christ. Just as God is willing to forgive us, we are called to forgive others. Here are three reminders about walking in forgiveness…
#1: Forgiveness is not about being a doormat or waiting for “time to heal all wounds.” It is clear that time doesn’t heal wounds – some people will not allow healing. Forgiveness is done primarily for yourself, and less so for the person who wronged you.
- Getting the other person to change their actions, behavior or words isn’t the point of forgiveness. In fact, the other person may never change or apologize for the offense.
- Forgiveness takes away the power the other person continues to wield in your life. Through your decision to walk in forgiveness, you choose to no longer define yourself as a victim.
#2: Forgiveness is not based on your feelings – it is an act of the will based on the fact that all of us are called by God to walk in forgiveness. Forgiveness is not an emotion – it is a choice, a decision of faith to act on the words of Jesus (Mark 11:25).
- Forgiveness is not conditional, it is unconditional. It is not based on what the offender does or deserves, but rather on giving the gift of mercy to your offender – a gift that is not deserved.
- Make the choice to forgive. Maybe you need to write a letter this week. Maybe you need to make a phone call. The time to forgive is now, and it starts with a decision. The enabling grace of God and the Holy Spirit will help you to do it.
#3: Forgiveness is a decision to release the offender. In the New Testament, forgiveness means to “let go, to send away or release the penalty when someone wrongs you.” Forgiveness means to release your resentment toward your offender.
- To forgive means to release your rights regarding the offense.
- To release your right to hold on to the offense.
- To release your right to keep bringing up the offense.
- To release your right to be bitter.
- To release your right to get even.
Walking the path of forgiveness means I am not looking for vengeance; I am not trying to get even… I am free. Choose to walk the path of forgiveness – you’ll be glad you did!