Forgiving Other's Wasn't a Suggestion
Freedom of Forgiveness
Do you feel unduly burdened with bitter memories toward those who have wronged you? It can sometimes be difficult to forgive the ones responsible. However, it isn't impossible. Offenses cause us pain so we try to insulate ourselves from it in various ways. One is to simply deny we are hurting. But this only serves to keep us from confronting the real problem and blocks the path to forgiveness.
As children, when traumatic events befell us we often felt it was our fault. For example, the death of a parent. "If only I hadn't made my father upset he wouldn't have had a heart attack." Sometimes this attitude follows us into adulthood. The Bible however, tells us we are to forgive those who have offended us.
"Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD" (Leviticus 19:18).
It takes great effort to move beyond our own trouble and understand what keeps us from saying, "I forgive you." We must first see it's our choice that sets us free to do so. Jesus Christ came to show us the right way to live.
Forgiveness isn't merely excusing those who have caused us pain. Forgiveness isn't about them. It's about us. Forgiving others frees us from emotional pain as a result of someone else's actions. We can choose to continue carrying negative feelings or to let them go.
Many are under the impression others have control to make us feel the way we do. Actually we are the only ones in control of our emotions. We choose how we react to any given situation, including the act of forgiving. We relinquish control to others through blame, by making them responsible for the way we feel.
When we take responsibility for our actions, we free ourselves from resentments of the past. Letting go of anger and bitterness opens the door to God’s healing. But what is forgiveness? Forgiveness is dismissing a debt, dismissing demands others owe you something.
But what about those who have confessed, yet still feel troubled? Perhaps that person doesn't know the difference between guilt and sorrow. Sorrow and forgiveness are separate issues. Forgiveness is completely confessing our own sins.
Forgiving others isn't an option, it's a command. When we forgive we conform to the image of Christ in attitude and behavior. Jesus forgave all. Shouldn't we follow his example?
Many struggle with trivial offenses. Then there are those who have experienced such horrendous acts they are ashamed to speak about them in public. The hurt is deep. But the command to forgive is the same for all offenses. Why then, do some hold on to anger and bitterness?
People with a lack of self esteem might use it has an opportunity to gain the attention to themselves. For a while this might put them on center stage and make them feel important, but that feeling is only temporary.
Others may need to control others in order to feel significant, manipulating the offender by holding their transgression over their head. Once they give up the right to do so they lose control and their sense of importance. Some feel there are offenses too big to forgive. Little ones can be forgiven, but others they can't.
Joseph forgave his own family's tremendous cruelty. His brothers hated him so much they threw him into a hole, and sold him as a slave. Later, when Joseph rose to become second-in-command to Pharaoh, he had opportunity for revenge. Joseph chose to forgive them providing them with food, clothes, and silver. He continually told his brothers he would not take revenge, even though they had intended him harm.
Jesus died to forgive all sin. How can we as Christians not forgive one for whom Christ died? Christians having difficulty forgiving others often have a problem accepting God’s forgiveness. Pardon from sin comes only from God because all sin is against God. Thus, God alone can pardon your sins. Forgiveness means more than being saved from judgment and God’s wrath.
But why is it so difficult to forgive others? Maybe we feel we have been attacked, and that can cause resentment. But heed this warning. If you don't forgive, don't expect to be forgiven. If you believe God's Word, you have the promise if you forgive others, you will be forgiven. When God forgives you, He gives you the power to forgive yourself. Nevertheless, unless Jesus lives in you, your efforts will be useless.
Jesus spent a lot of time teaching the importance of forgiving others. He made it clear forgiveness is to be a characteristic of his followers.
"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord" (Romans 12:19).
To forgive means to not seek revenge on the one who has hurt you. It means letting go of the anger we harbor inside us and allowing God to deal with them as He, in His perfect wisdom, sees fit. This doesn’t mean excusing a wrong and pretending it never happened. It means we shouldn't harbor anger towards anyone.
“I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Few disputes are one-sided. Our pride sees only the sins of others, not our own. Instead of trying to justify yourself, ask God to forgive you. Refusing to forgive is saying others are not worthy of it. We all know people full of resentment and hold a grudge forever. All that accomplishes is to hold the door open the door to Satan and closes the door to God.
Humility allows us to move past our pain, and give it to God. When we forgive someone, we excuse their mistakes, not punish them for it. Your conscience cannot live without forgiveness, and no one can enter the kingdom of God without it. The only way to have inner peace in Christ is to be reconciled to others. The power to forgive comes from God. The decision to forgive must come from you. Paul told the Colossians to live in peace as members of Christ’s body.
It reestablishes order by acquitting the offender. Only forgiveness frees us from the injustice of others. Humans can be downright hurtful. But all have wronged somebody somewhere.
Forgiveness is simply a decision to let go of our regrets and our own view of justice.
Tips on forgiving:
Don't deny you have been hurt, admit it. Forgiving is not denying.
Make a decision to forgive others.
Do not seek revenge.
Pray for a forgiving heart.
Pray for those who have hurt you.
Quit blaming and making excuses.
Confess your sin to God.
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