A refusal to forgive someone usually begins with an event where another person either purposely or unknowingly causes us pain. Whether we realize it or not, we make a choice soon after the wounding occurs. We either decide to lock the person up in an imagined debtor’s prison until he or she apologizes and/or we stop feeling hurt (a common response), or we immediately release the person from the debt owed to us by offering him or her the gift of forgiveness (an uncommon response).
If we don’t quickly forgive our offender, it will ultimately manifest in anger, bitterness, and resentment toward him or her. Drinking from this multilayered cup of flesh is like drinking poison and expecting the one who wounded us to get sick. As long as we justify our refusal to forgive the one who wounded us, we will remain in our misery.
It isn’t someone else’s sin against us that makes us miserable; it’s our own sin of refusing to forgive that person. (If you are like me, you made need to read that again.) Getting a revelation of this one truth will cause us to take full responsibility for our self–inflicted misery and resolutely choose to forgive our offender. If we live long enough, we will have many opportunities to forgive others, so we might as well make up our minds right now to be quick forgivers and enjoy our lives, regardless of what other people may or may not do.
You may be thinking, But you don’t know what this person did to me. He [or she] doesn’t deserve my forgiveness! You’re right; I don’t know, but God does, and He has forgiven you for the sins of your entire lifetime. And you didn’t deserve it either. None of us deserves His forgiveness. That’s why grace made its grand entrance into this world in the person of Jesus Christ.
Even if you don’t think any of your sins are as bad as the ones committed against you, granting forgiveness to your offender is still necessary if you would like to consistently live a Christ-glorifying life. God commands us to forgive others in the same way He has forgiven us—completely:
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Eph. 4:32).
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you (Col. 3:12–13).
Many people wrongly believe (as I did) that they have to feel like forgiving someone who has wronged them before they can actually do it. This lie from the pit of hell will enslave us if we believe it. Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a determined decision of the will. We can choose to forgive because we are in union with the ultimate Forgiver, and we can do all things through Him who gives us strength (Phil. 4:13).
Before concluding the topic of forgiveness, I would be remiss if I did not address the rampant epidemic of refusing to forgive ourselves for the things we have done wrong. Plain and simple, when we refuse to forgive ourselves for something Jesus has freely and completely forgiven, we are saying that we know better than He does. In effect, we are devaluing the shed blood of Christ that secured our complete forgiveness forever.
In my own life, when I began to realize and own the totality of my forgiveness in Christ, I found it much easier to forgive myself and others. When you think about it, how can we offer anyone what we ourselves have refused to experience? Until you own Christ’s complete forgiveness, I daresay you will find it difficult to freely forgive yourself and others who have wounded you.
There is no time like the present to stop drinking the poison that is making you sick and miserable. Obey Christ by first releasing yourself from your imagined debtor’s prison. Then, release everyone else you are keeping locked up.
Dear reader, I hope you enjoyed today’s excerpt from my soon-to-be-published Bible study, His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love. I would love to interact with you concerning its content by asking you a few of questions:
- Are you currently choosing to drink the poison of unforgiveness toward yourself or someone else who has wounded you?
- If your answer to question 1 is yes, would you like to stop wasting the precious time you have left on this earth poisoning your insides?
- If your answer to question 2 is yes, ask the ultimate Forgiver who lives in you to empower you to release yourself and/or your offender from your imaginary debtor’s prison.
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Until next time,
P.S. If you enjoyed this post and want to know more about me and the types of content I will be posting, please visit my About Page.
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Kim K. Francis
P.O. Box 357
Perryton, TX 79070