I have an idea of what you may be saying right now, "This person has NO clue what they've done to me! They don't deserve anything at all! Much less MY forgiveness!!" They certainly don't deserve your forgiveness, much less God's... but none of us deserve what Jesus did for us either.
As a child of God, I must forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in me.
But what is forgiveness? What does God say about forgiveness? How does one truly forgive?
In order to know what forgiveness is we must first know what unforgiveness truly means.
Unforgiveness is actually a form of hate against another person. If a person hates somebody, it is a sign that the person is lacking love in their heart. Why? They are not firmly rooted and grounded in the love of Christ, and Christ's love is not flowing through them. As simple as that sounds, that's how it works. Don't let this fool you, bitterness is known in the Bible as spiritual poison: Acts 8:23, "For I perceive that thou art in the gall (poison) of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity."
Allowing yourself to hang onto hard feelings and become bitter is only causing your wound to become even more infected spiritually. Keep in mind there is a very close relationship between forgiveness and the love of God.
Now, what is forgiveness? Forgiveness is God's restoration of relationship that entails the removal of objective guilt. Thus, to forgive the offense against God's holiness or the perpetrator of the offense are synonymous. Forgiveness can be extended both to nations (especially Israel) and to individuals.
The Bible gives us much instruction when it comes to forgiveness. These are just a few:
- We forgive because we have been forgiven by God (Ephesians 4:32).
- We forgive in obedience to God (Matthew 6:14-15; Romans 12:18).
- We forgive others to gain control of our lives from hurt emotions (Genesis 4:1-8).
- We forgive so we won’t become bitter and defile those around us (Hebrews 12:14-15).
The key to forgiving others... grow in God's love!
If you reach out to God, and seek a deeper relationship with Him, He will draw near to you, and you will find that deeper relationship with Him. God's Word is clear about this fact:
Luke 11:9-10, "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."
James 4:8, "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you..."
Forgiveness is a choice. We must choose to forgive those who have done us wrong, then lay the whole mess in God's hands, and leave it there. Give your hurts and hard feelings to Him. Think about Jesus... here they murdered Him (they didn't do that to you or I!), and yet one of the last words that left His mouth were crying out "Father, forgive them!" Look at the depth of God's love for us! God's deep love for us was expressed through Jesus' death on the cross. When we begin to comprehend the great expression of love that was towards us, that same love will begin to grow in our hearts, and flow out to others. That is why it is important to grow in God's love and become well aware of how deep and rich it is, because when we understand His love for us, we will find that forgiving others becomes naturally and the choice becomes much easier to make.
Make it your goal to develop and maintain an attitude of forgiveness. See that you keep your heart clean before God. Be quick to repent when you are faced with opportunities for strife. Don’t allow Satan any place in your life.
Use this confession of God’s Word to activate the power of love and forgiveness. Close all doors to Satan. Keep the pipe clean and the power of God flowing!
“Father, in the Name of Jesus, I make a fresh commitment to You to live in peace and harmony—not only with my brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, but with my friends, associates, neighbors and family.
“I let go of all bitterness, resentment, envying, strife, and unkindness in any form. I give no place to the devil, in Jesus’ name.
“Now, Father, I ask Your forgiveness. By faith I receive it. I am cleansed from all unrighteousness through Jesus Christ. As I forgive and release all who have wronged and hurt me, I ask You to forgive and release them. Deal with them in Your mercy and lovingkindness.
“From this moment on, I set myself to walk in love, to seek peace, to live in agreement, and to conduct myself toward others in a manner that is pleasing to You.
“It is written in Your Word that the love of God has been shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Ghost. I believe that Your love flows out from me to everyone I come in contact with. In Jesus’ Name, I receive it done. Amen.”
Forgive, forget and be blessed!
I dedicate this post to my Pastor, Ronald D. Walker, Jr. of Word of Faith International Christian Center - St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Thank you for allowing God to use you to teach me to walk in love and to forgive immediately.