This is article was published earlier last month, but I felt it was necessary to publish it again.
Unforgiveness – A debt that you need to pay NOW
Financial debt is a baggage that takes grip over the financial aspect of our lives preventing us from living our potential. Similarly unforgiveness is a baggage that chokes the life out of our souls making us slaves of bitterness and anger. I have personally experienced the vice of unforgiveness and also enjoyed the freedom of letting go of bitterness and anger. My mom died when I was four, and five years later my dad re-married. My relationship with my step mom started going south shortly after and it took over seven years of justifying my anger. As a Christian i knew that total healing would only come from totally letting go my bitterness and anger, but it was easier for me to justify my bitterness than to face my ego. When i started developing symptoms of stomach ulcers, i knew i had to obey God and ask my mom for forgiveness. What followed thereafter was a rebuilding of the relationship and trying to make up for missed opportunities, but i also found physical healing and freedom from anger and bitterness.
What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a deliberate choice that we make to let go off the wrong done to us (or perceived wrong) by others based on obedience of God’s command, that is clearly stipulated in His Word… that we “walk in love”. Forgiveness is not easy, but to live a fulfilling life, it is a choice we have to make.
As noted here on overcoming unforgiveness,
Forgiveness does not mean becoming best friends with the person even though this would be quite a testimony. It implies letting go of all his/her wrongs and wishing him God’s mercy rather than wrath. God may punish him/her but you have no role to play on the negative side.
On the contrary, unforgiveness is deciding to hold on to bitterness, anger and sense of revenge against the person(s) who have wronged us
It is the single most popular poison that the devil uses against God’s people, and it is one of the deadliest poisons a person can take spiritually. It kills slowly but painfully.
By living in unforgiveness, we unconsciously give the other person/party power and control over our emotions.
What does the bible say about forgiveness?
There is a lot of reference in the bible about forgiveness. I will highlight some few verses here.
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
If I had known that by harboring unforgiveness, I was actually turning away from God’s forgiveness, I would have done it earlier and do it for me.
“Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.” (Col 3:19)
“The Lord, in His love, can deliver you from the sin of bitterness. Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.”(Isa 38:17)
“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”(Col 3:13)
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.” (Mathew 18:21-22)
The effects of unforgiveness
- Bitterness takes toll on our lives and makes it hard to build health relationships because we bring in added toxic negativity into our present relationships
- Emotions of anger build up on the inside that can burst into harmful retaliation
- Our own spirits and souls “shrivel up” (contract) more and more as bitterness turns into anger and into hate.
- We block ourselves spiritually from receiving help, healing and forgiveness from God (Matthew 6:14-15.)
Dr Larry Philps also notes that as a result of unforgiveness:
- We continue to feel the psychological pain of the perceived offense.
- We block healthy communication and potential reconciliation with the “offender”.
- We perceive similar offenses by others who remind us of the offender.
Benefits of forgiveness
- Forgiveness releases a sense of freedom that refreshes the soul and mind.
- Forgiveness brings physical healing
- Exercising forgiveness is an obedience act to God
- Forgiveness helps rebuild relationships
Other physical benefits of living a life of forgiveness noted by mayo clinic
Letting go of grudges and bitterness makes way for compassion, kindness and peace. Forgiveness can lead to:
- Healthier relationships
- Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
- Less stress and hostility
- Lower blood pressure
- Fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety and chronic pain
- Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse
How to begin
Pray about it– The primary way is through prayer. Praying for the person begins the inner healing process from all the hurt and enables you to take the heart of Christ over the matter. It is impossible or at least extremely difficult to detest or harbor ill feelings towards a person and pray for him/her at the same time
Trust God every step– It is not in our nature to extend forgiveness but by faith, God enables us to do so.
And as Joyce Meyer puts it.
Decide – You will never forgive if you wait until you feel like it. Choose to obey God and steadfastly resist the devil in his attempts to poison you with bitter thoughts. Make a quality decision to forgive, and God will heal your wounded emotions in due time (see Matthew 6:12,14).
Depend – You cannot forgive without the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s too hard to do on your own. If you are truly willing, God will enable you, but you must humble yourself and cry out to Him for help. In John 20:22,23 Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit!” His next instruction was about forgiving people. Ask God to breathe the Holy Spirit on you so you can forgive those who’ve hurt you.
Obey – The Word tells us several things we’re to do concerning forgiving our enemies:
Some quotes on forgiveness
To forgive is indeed the best form of self-interest since anger, resentment, and revenge are corrosive of that “summum bonum,” the greatest good.(Bishop Desmond Tutu)
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.(Martin Luther King, Jr)