We live in a society that actually has an epidemic of unforgiveness. Think about it. There are so many people walking around upset with someone or something. They may be walking around upset with a sports team, upset with a child, or upset with the political state of the country. Many times we are upset about something we can’t control. Have you ever found yourself angry at a person because they took your parking spot at Target? After all, they should have seen you waiting there for it, right? And, they are all by themselves; don’t they know you have children to bring in with you? Suddenly your day is ruined, and they are going about their day happy, or angry at the person who took their spot at the previous store.
Sometimes our offense and then unforgiveness stems from simple misunderstandings. There are so many ways to communicate and we are so busy going about our day to day. We can just be downright insensitive sometimes. Have you ever received an e-mail and you didn’t know how to take it… it could sound one way, but, maybe she meant it another way. I have received texts on several occasions that sounded downright nasty, yet if I think about it… isn’t that the nature of texting? We are trying to say as much as we can with as few characters as possible. If I reevaluate how it sounds in my head, I realize it’s not nasty at all. It does not help that we are women and we are so incredibly great at analyzing things. At least we think we are.
Then there are the times when we are genuinely hurt by someone and they know what they have done to us is wrong. We live in a world where the injustice done to us is sometimes incomprehensible.
These can be the hardest things to forgive. And, so often there are layers of people involved. How could my parents have allowed these things to happen to me? How could my husband do this to me,
his most intimate partner – his best friend? Sometimes these things are right at the surface and we think about them every day – and sometimes they are hidden so deep, we hardly know they are
there. But, we know something is there. Something is just not right deep down inside.
The dangerous thing about unforgiveness is that it holds us prisoner. You can see how it works very easily in the example about the parking space. You suffer, however the person who hurt you doesn’t even know they did anything. Sometimes the prison bars are less obvious, such as in the other two examples… either way unforgiveness puts us behind bars. These bars keep us from doing and being all that we can be in Christ.
Why, you say? That person did this and I am not going to forgive them, but I’m doing just fine? In Mark 11:25-26 (NKJV) we read, “And, whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” We see in Romans 3:23 (NKJV) “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” What does this mean? It means that we are all sinners and if we would like God to forgive us, we are required to forgive others.
So what does forgiveness look like? Does forgiving someone mean that we will never think about how we were wronged again? Not at all! It is important to remember, we serve a gracious and loving God, and he sees your heart. He knows your intentions. Forgiveness is a decision. Mainly, you just have to decide to do it.
So let’s take this step by step. Are you ready to be set free from the unforgiveness holding you prisoner in your life? First, let’s work on the easy stuff. Ask God to reveal to you anybody you need to forgive. I would suggest doing it now. Our enemy is really great at finding distractions to keep us from doing this. He doesn’t want you free. I suggest taking a piece of paper, a pen, and 5 minutes of quiet – go in the bathroom and lock the door if you have to. Ask God to reveal who you need to forgive and write down everyone who comes to mind. Every single person I know, who has done this, is surprised at who is on their list. Some of them will be obvious and some will be those hidden ones we talked about before. It’s time to get free.
Next, we are going to forgive the easy ones. Some of them will be as easy as going through the list and saying, “Father, I chose to forgive ______.”
Some of them will be much harder but the method is the same. Take a step and say it out loud. Tell your heavenly Father you choose to forgive these people. Now remember, just because you said
the words doesn’t mean it will be erased from your memory. It may come back to you from time to time, but at those times you can remind yourself, and the devil, that you have made a choice to
forgive. And, pretty soon, the memory will become less frequent.
Some may have wronged you so badly that you cannot even say the words. You cannot even find it in yourself to choose to forgive. I know. I have been there. It’s important then to look at things
another way. I find it helpful in those situations to go to the Word for the truth. Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV) says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against
powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” You see, we are all tempted by the devil at some point in time. Sure, we
have the ability to stand up to the temptation, but what person hasn’t fallen to it at sometime. I guess what I’m saying is, it’s OK to blame the devil for what has happened to you and not the
person. When you really get that truth inside of you, many times you will even find compassion for them. Get angry at the right foe. It will help. When you get to that point, say the words out
loud, “I choose to forgive ______”.
Then pray for them. WHAT!? Pray for them? The single most effective way to help your flesh get in line with your spirit in the realm of forgiveness is to pray for those who hurt you. The way I
found to be able to do this was to pray Ephesians 3: 14-21 and put the person’s name in that you need to forgive. It really works. Trust me. It may take time, but one day you will just be going
about your day and notice that it’s done.
Forgiveness can be easy or it can be one of the hardest things we do. But, as Christians we need to do it. It is time for us to make a decision, and when we do, we will find ourselves free from the prison that has been holding us. Take a step today, God will be faithful to help you finish it.