It is Hard to Forgive
It's Hard to Forgive
Most recently while I was cleaning and discarding old things, I came across an old journal I had written in many years ago. As I skimmed over it, remembering things that had transpired in my life, I noticed a pattern of emotional instability in that stage of my life. I remembered the anger and resentment, the rejection by people I knew and the people I loved, and the loneliness and the unforgiveness in my heart. I was shocked as I read my own words and was so thankful that I have come to accept and know the Lord since then.
The state of emotion I was once in weighed down on my soul heavily and oppressed my spirit. I was very angry and bitter and this affected every area of my life. My relationship with others was distanced and I carried the sadness over me like a dark veil. My own emotions were alienating me and holding me in a spiritual prison and I blamed others for my state-of-being.
As I continued to read my journal, it felt as if my spirit was being grated and I shrank back not wanting to read anymore. I slammed the journal close and threw it in the wastebasket. "This is not me anymore" I said to myself. I have forgiven and prayed for those who hurt me and have moved on with my life. I was confident that I did not hold anger and unforgiveness in my heart anymore, or did I?
Circumstances in life will test our faith and it is during these trial times that the Lord will look in our hearts. Sickness or the death of someone close to us can severely shake our faith. Many of us renounce our faith and shut the Lord out of our lives and many press-on and endure and our faith is strengthened.
It is during these times when we become vividly aware of our surrounding and take note of the people who stand by us in our hour of need and the people that turn their backs on us. Emotions begin to play havoc in our lives and fear, loneliness, anger, resentment, and unforgiveness can slowly seep back into our lives giving the enemy of our soul a foothold as we begin to harden our hearts and push and alienate the Lord right out of our lives.
Some, after reading this, may feel that they are living biblically sound lives and this message does not pertain to them, and that may well be. However, as Christians we are to continually examine and question ourselves of our right-standing with the Lord. If we do not do so and deceive ourselves into believing that we are sin-free, pride will set in. How do we know that what we are doing is right? Have you listened to the Lord lately? That little voice speaking to your heart and the conviction that follows? A word by way of a friend or by listening or reading the Word of God? Or are you ignoring it and continue in your ways?
It is when we are willing to listen that the Lord will speak to us, and the Lord spoke to me while listening to the Word one Sunday afternoon. This message talked about praying and there have been many times I've asked the Lord why does He not answer some prayers? I know He listens to them. This particular day I heard His Word and it pierced right through my heart. I hadn't looked in my heart for unforgiveness lately and was painfully reminded that there were some unresolved issues with a family member. I talked often with this family member and carried on as if nothing had happened, but deep in my heart I was still angry and had not fully forgiven them. The Lord revealed to me that I was blaming others (again) for something that was pre-ordained by HIM and I was humbled... and I forgave.
I have always known that prayer is one of the most powerful weapons against the enemy but when we pray, whether for ourselves or others, we cannot hold resentment in our hearts "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins" (Mark 11:25). "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Mathew 6:14).
And if a person has hurt or offended us and we hold resentment and unforgiveness in our heart, the bible says that we are condemning that person and ourselves. "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven" (Luke 6:37).
When we sin against God or against another, we must humble ourselves and confess our sins. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). We should pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us and ask the Lord for forgiveness, ask the person we offended for forgiveness, and then we should forgive ourselves! Yes, we should forgive ourselves because we cannot condemn ourselves to a life of self-reproach and guilt. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He already paid the price, so why pick our sins back up? There is no sin that the almighty and powerful blood of Jesus cannot cleanse! He loved us so much that he gave His life up for us, for me! Therefore, I am more than willing to accept this gift and in return I give my life to Him.
Everyone has been hurt at some point in their lives and Christians are not impervious to pain. Likewise, Peter seemingly had his moments with his brothers, as we all do, and he probably struggled with unforgiveness as we do today, but Peter was wise and went to Jesus. "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times" (Matthew 8:21-22). Jesus tells us in this verse that we are to forgive every time someone sins against us, as many times as it takes. And if we forgave them before and they continue to hurt or offend us, we are to forgive them each and every time.
Most of us struggle in this area. It is hard to forgive; however, we must ask ourselves how many times has Jesus forgiven us? Not only does He forgives our sins time and time again but he forgets them "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us" (Psalms 103:12).
So I say brothers and sisters in Christ before we come to the Lord, please let us leave our hate, our anger, our resentment and unforgiveness at the foot of the cross and let's not take communion if we have unforgiveness in our heart until we are able to forgive. By forgiving we are not giving the enemy a foothold. When we forgive we are freeing ourselves from the spiritual prison of resentment we are bound in and we are setting our brethren free from their guilt. Let us draw nearer to Jesus by forgiving and allow His light to shine through us. And finally, be blessed by the Word of God that has been given to us to instruct and guide us.
"Father God I pray that this message blesses everyone that reads it and I pray that you minister to all who are hurting because of the pain the enemy has inflicted on our lives and are now struggling because of it. Help us and teach us to forgive those who have sinned against us and help those who are struggling to accept the gift of forgiveness from your son Jesus. I ask that you help us to forget the pain we've been through and bring healing in our lives. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen!"