Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to write about or even read. I am writing this chapter as we are on the brink of Thanksgiving, which I find so timely. A thankful heart and the idea of giving is a precursor to forgiving. Forgiving is often giving and expecting nothing in return. Our Heavenly Father gave His only Son and when He gave, He gave it all! He gave His life! He took on sin and shame for us, He sacrificed and gave beyond our idea of giving. When we give, we can be guilty of expecting something in return. Oh, to have a heart like the Father’s, selfless and wholly turned to others, to live a life that exemplifies Christ’s love, not one that seeks our own gain. Yet time and time again we fall flat on our proverbial faces! Whether we are giving to another, forgiving, or maintaining a spirit of thanksgiving, the underlying theme here is giving. The Lord has given the perfect example of how to live this incredible unnatural way. Living like this will change your perspective on how you relate to others. With sacrificial, unconditional giving led by the Holy Spirit, the very presence of God fills us and aids our inherent selfish nature!
This chapter was one of the last written. I personally had a challenging time with this. If we are honest with ourselves forgiveness is difficult. I had to come to terms with unforgiveness lingering in my heart. The Lord showed me what I was looking for was restoration. I am reminded I must choose to forgive first, let go and restoration follows. Forgive just as the Father does for us, remembering sins no more! The Lord is our perfect example. Psalm 86:5, “For you O Lord, are good and ready to forgive our trespasses, sending them away, letting them go completely and forever.” The Holy Spirit will enable us to do this for others and this goes for forgiving yourself as well! Forgiving ourselves can be more difficult than forgiving another person, it can be immobilizing!
Not forgiving yourself is pride, it prevents us from accepting the forgiveness the Lord has for us. It was like a slap across my face when I realized that the unforgiveness I had for myself was pride! It will put a wrench in your relationship with the Lord because God is opposed to the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. Self-loathing is not humility, it is pride! Get rid of it and bask in the Lord’s love and forgiveness and move on! I know how hard this is, this is one pit I had been stuck in too long! Just a little side note, pit and pity are one in the same! It focuses on the negative and completely on self! It can become a stronghold! To get rid of a stronghold, we hold on strong to the Lord! Psalm 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall, I fear? The Lord is the refuge and stronghold of my life.” Unforgiveness will not allow us to walk free. As a Believer our role is to forgive, let go of resentment, and trust the Lord will bring healing and restoration! He is our Deliverer who is quick to forgive, a trait we need to adopt!
I was having regular migraines that went on for years! As I sought the Lord for healing, I was prompted to resolve unforgiveness in my life. As I took steps to forgive, it began to manifest in my heart. I got to the point of genuine forgiveness and experienced a release inside me. My headaches left and bit by bit the relationship was restored. Forgiveness and healing are not something we can do on our own, rather it is something the Lord does through us. As I was dealing with unforgiveness in my life, the Lord helped me to realize I would not want anyone holding all my sins over my head for the rest of my life. So, who am I to do that to anyone else? Jesus died for my sins and forgave them and remembers them no more. That is the kind of forgiveness He wants from His children!
Paul posed some questions in Romans 2, “So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” If I condemn then I am guilty of the very same thing. Ouch! When someone does us wrong and we refuse to forgive we are guilty of sin. If we want God’s blessing, we must respond His way! Easier said than done! Unforgiveness is a thief, it will steal your time and your joy! Are we ready to allow the Lord to do this through us? Yielding to the Lord opens the door to His results in your life. We do not forgive because we feel like it, we forgive because God commands us! It keeps us from the snare of the enemy and from bondage to bitterness and resentment. Proverbs 3:7, “Be not wise in your own eyes: reverently fear and worship the Lord and turn [entirely] away from evil!”
The Lord went through persecution and rejection far beyond what anyone on this earth will ever see, yet He forgave. As He hung on the cross, He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!” We too can do this because He lives in us. We may still feel the sting of rejection and hurt and the enemy will use these to rip us apart. God has the glue to hold us together! It starts with us obeying what He says. It doesn’t matter what happened, what matters is how we respond. How do we love others? I am not discrediting a tragedy someone has endured, the Lord wants you to have peace in your life. Or are we stuck in self-loathing? Either way does not receive the love and forgiveness the Lord has for us.
In Colossians it tells us to rid ourselves of anger, rage, bad feelings towards others, which means it is on us to act! Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” We all have difficult people in our life, let’s try not to be the difficult ones! We can only yield our will, we are not responsible for changing others, but we can pray for them. How I wish I could tell you I always respond with grace and mercy. As a child of God, I need to always respond in love! On my own I cannot do this. He doesn’t expect me to, that’s not how we are designed! He designed us to need Him! Yield to Him and His ways as you walk out hard things, like forgiveness. God will have His perfect work done through you! True forgiveness ushers in restoration, a timely process with beautiful results!