forgiveness begins with you

Forgiveness begins with you, the Christian believer. In this world of hatred, jealousy, and malice towards others, it is imperative to learn and apply this beautiful character trait. "Yes, but some things are just hard to let go!", you may say as you are reading this. Many aspects of the Christian life are never easy, and this is one of them.

Perhaps you are experiencing this particular issue in your own life at this very moment in time and have a difficult time in pardoning someone else for what they have done, or have perceived to do, whether they be from sins of the past or present.

Truly this is a subject that brings up many thoughts and emotions of anger, resentment, malice, and other forms of negativity--even among Christians. However, let's look at this subject a bit deeper.

forgiveness is letting go

Are you holding someone hostage from what they've done in the past or present time? Maybe you think that's a harsh question or statement to say, but indeed that is what you, or I, are actually doing to the other person when we don't forgive.

For instance, if someone gossips or says something bad about you or your family, hurting your feelings, or disrespecting you in some way, it is easy to put up some sort of a barrier or an imaginary blockade within your heart and mind towards that person automatically. Later on, even if you hear that person's name being mentioned, you may suddenly feel a twinge of anger, bitterness, or resentment rise up within your heart about that person regarding what they said or did.

If this is true for you, you are holding that person/s hostage in our own mind and heart, not allowing the cold harsh memories of the past or present pain to be released. Therefore, in essence you have placed them in bondage to you. This is a visual analogy of what is really going on inside of you, if you are not letting go of all that hurt, pain, or rejection that plagues your soul so much.

Some people spend years holding rejection, anger, resentment, grudges, or even small insults towards family members, friends, co-workers, employers, or other church members, for what they've said or done to them (or to other people). Many years can go by and those who have not learned how to let go live in a prison of their own making. I know of grandparents of families who have gone through much hurt, anger, and depression as they held onto past grudges and unforgiveness in their lives that built up over time, but now find it hard to nearly impossible to let it go!

Personally, I have been aflicted by this very issue as well on many occasions in life, and found it to be so hard to let go of certain offenses. However, as I studied and meditated on God's Word, I found out that just by harboring these offenses towards others, as well as towards myself, I was doing irreparable damage upon my own soul, which affected my Christian testimony, and prevented me from growing spiritually in the Lord.

 unforgiveness spells trouble

A Christian's life can be affected in many ways if he/she refuses to pardon another or have mercy and compassion in letting go of various sins, offenses, or hurts from the past. Actually, it is a form of covetousness, idolatry, and pride. In our flesh, we all tend to want to preserve our inner selves from being hurt or maimed by others or injury from outside forces. In doing so, we create a tough outer shell to hide or keep our vulnerable inner selves in tact. In this sense we love our own selves--our own beings so much. We covet our own lives and want to keep it protected at all costs.  

Just as one might hold onto a trophy in a win or victory from participating in a sports event, keeping and holding onto an unconfessed sin, grudge, or offense can be virtually the same thing in God's eyes. It brings about inner pride within our hearts and therefore, puts us up on a higher plain within our own mind's eye. This is a sin and should never be allowed to continue in your life.

If you are doing this, you are virtually telling God that you can protect yourself and/ or avenge others in your life much better than He can; therefore, giving yourself rule and reign over your own life, which is idolatry. Idolatry does not only refer to serving, worshiping, or bowing down to a carved idol/statue, tangible items, or money, but it can and does refer to anything and anyone which you put in front of God that you deem to be more important than He is in your life, including that of self. Here are a few passages of scripture that will make this point clearer:

  • Exodus 20:4-5, God commands us, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me..."
  • Psalm 16:4 says, "Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names unto My lips."
  • Exodus 34:14 reminds us, "For thou shalt worship no other god; for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God..."
  • Colossians 3:5 says "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry..."
  • Romans 12:19 tells us, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written,' Vengeance is Mine,' saith the Lord; ' I will repay.'"
  • Leviticus 19:18 commands, "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord."
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:15 reminds us to, "See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men."
  • Isaiah 2:12 warns, "For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low..."
  • James 4:6 says, "But He giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, 'God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.'" Lastly,
  • James 4:10 says, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up."

Another danger of unforgiveness in a believer's life comes from allowing a root of bitterness to form in one's heart; which then becomes harbored, coddled, and pacified, and ultimately manifesting and penetrating itself into nearly every area of a person's everyday life. Forgiveness affects your life in just the opposite way; in the light of God's way, and that of just being and doing what is right.

It is so easy to allow bitterness and resentment to crop up and affect our lives and those around us. Just as a root of any plant grows far and wide underneath the ground's surface to keep it growing continually strong, thus is the way of the continual growth of the root of bitterness. When it forms, it manifests itself within our attitudes, perceptions of people, and in our thoughts and actions. You end up having a hard time trusting people, and therefore, trusting and obeying God. Here's what the Bible says about it:

  • Hebrews 12:14-15 tells us, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled."
  • Mark 11:25 exhorts us, "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses."
  • Ephesians 4:31-32 exhorts, "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
  • Acts 8:23 says, "For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity."
  • Isaiah 38:17 says, "Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou has in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou has cast all my sins behind Thy back."
  • Ephesians 4:26-27 tells us, "Be ye angry, and sin not: Let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil."
  • Matthew 6:14-15 warns us, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive men not their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
  • Proverbs 10:12 says, "Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins."
  • Proverbs 14:10 also says, "The heart knoweth its own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy."
  • Proverbs 17:25 says, "A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him." And lastly,
  • Matthew 18:21-22 it says, "Then came Peter to Him, and said, 'Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?' Jesus saith unto him, 'I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.'"

forgiveness covers sin and heals the broken hearted

Sometimes just saying a sincere "I'm sorry, please forgive me" to the one who has hurt or offended you can open up the flood-gates to healing a broken heart. There is healing in body, soul, and spirit when you are pardoned from sin. This is what Jesus did on the cross so many years ago, when he bled, died. and then rose again for us, to save us from all our sin and shame. He is and will always remain to be a perfect example set for us. That healing is for you and me; for all those who would believe in Him.

When you are seeking comfort, understanding, and love in helping you to have mercy, grace, compassion, and pardon for another person who has wronged you, God's Word will aid you in all things, including the help you need in unforgiveness. There is always strength in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is right there for the taking. Here are also a few scripture passages to give you comfort and healing as you go through the process of forgiveness:

  • Proverbs 3:5-6- reminds us to, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy way acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."
  • Psalm 34:18 says, "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit."
  • Psalm 147:3 encourages us, "He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds."
  • Psalm 73:26 says, "My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever."
  • Matthew 11:28-30 comforts us, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." Lastly, 
  • Isaiah 41:10 says, "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness."

In conclusion, it remains clear how important forgiveness is in your life, the life of the one in whom you need to forgive, as well as how the Lord will in turn forgive you.

I look at it this way; Jesus is my prime example! Since He loved me so much to forgive me of all my sins and wrongdoings, what then gives me the right to hold back a pardon from the person who wronged me? It doesn't matter whether or not I think that person is worthy of my forgiveness. I am commanded to do so. How dare I not forgive? I am not bigger or greater than God is. Each time I ask Him to forgive me of sin, He always does! So; therefore, my only duty and pleasure, is to have grace, mercy, and compassion in my heart to forgive the other person who wronged or offended me.

I would encourage you to think and consider also, in how and why you must pardon another in your life. Break the chains that bound you to your offender by forgiving him/her, and you will find the peace and contentment you so desire to have in your life. Rid that burden from your heart and life. Lay it all at Jesus's feet. Remember Colossians 3:13 that says, "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." God bless.

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