September 6, 2019
In my experience, unforgiveness is the number one reason why Christians are oppressed! Unforgiveness leads to bitterness and offense, which can cause you to waste your life trying to get even instead of fulfilling your own destiny by walking in your call. Many people spend their lives hating others and planning for revenge. However, bitterness has no friends. There is no container known to man that will hold it. It always leaks out onto those we love the most. It is important that we forgive all those who sinned against us so that we can be free to go on with our lives! It is also crucial that we learn to forgive ourselves for our own sins.
Unforgiveness Will Poison Your Life
I am all too familiar with the plight of being profoundly wounded by others and relying on unforgiveness to protect me and even to bring justice against my oppressors. I received the Lord in 1973 during the Jesus Movement. I was 18 years old and living with a ton of pain in my heart. I used to lie in bed at night imagining creative ways to destroy the people who had abused me. I didn’t just want them dead; I wanted them to suffer the way they had caused me to suffer. Soon after I got saved, the Lord began to confront my unforgiveness. He told me that I needed to forgive the people who abused me or I would open the door to the tormentors in my life. It wasn’t easy at first but I realized that He had given me the power to forgive when He forgave me.
Joyce Meyers said, “Unforgiveness is like drinking deadly poison and thinking the other person’s going to die.” We see this principle played out in Scripture when Peter asked Jesus how many times he had to forgive (which seems humorous to me that Peter is the one asking how many times he has to forgive when he is the most offensive guy on the team).
Jesus’ response was in a parable, which you can read about in Matthew 18:21-35. I’ll give you the summary: A servant owed his master 10,000 bags of gold. The master took pity on him, canceled his debt, and let him go free. The next thing you know, the servant is choking a fellow-servant who owed him 100 silver coins. Instead of showing the fellow-servant mercy as his master had shown him, the servant threw his debtor in prison until he could pay him back. The master caught wind of this and asked his servant, “Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” Then, the master threw him in jail to be tortured until he could pay back all he owed. Jesus ended his parable by saying: “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Forgiveness is a Responsibility
This parable is stunning to me. Unforgiveness puts us in prison.
If we fail to understand how big our debt of sin was to God and what it meant for Him to forgive it, we can fall into the trap of judging the much smaller wrongs of those around us. As we can see from the story, we are only hurting ourselves when we do that!
It is the privilege and the responsibility of royalty to forgive. Solomon, who was raised to be a prince from birth said, “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression” (Prov. 19:11). After Jesus rose from the dead, He breathed on His disciples, releasing His Spirit into them. Then He gave them their first mission as Spirit-filled believers, “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained” (John 20:23). Therefore, forgiveness is a choice but it’s really not an option.
5 Lies that Will Keep You Trapped in Unforgiveness
I don’t believe that anyone wants to intentionally live enslaved to the shackles of unforgiveness that brings torment to their life. So why do some people live in a lifestyle of bitterness? I’d propose that these 5 lies are contributors to being imprisoned to offense:
- Lie 1 – You believe that if you forgive them, you won’t receive justice for your pain. The truth is that arrogance can blind you to the fact that you too have failed God and others. Justice was settled at the cross, for both you and your offender.
- Lie 2 – You think that your unforgiveness of someone else’s trespasses justifies your own bad behavior. For example, someone may be having an extramarital affair and they feel like their spouse violated them… so they use their offense as an excuse for their behavior. The truth is, no amount of unforgiveness you hold towards someone else will bring freedom from your own sin! You can only receive mercy and freedom when you acknowledge your own problem and repent from sin.
- Lie 3 – You believe that if you forgive, you will have to trust the person who violated you. However, the truth is that you are not required to trust the person you forgave. Trust is earned or granted as a privilege, not a demand put on you by the violator.
- Lie 4 – You are convinced that your feelings are your convictions. But the truth is that your convictions dictate your feelings and not vice versa. Forgiveness is not an emotional choice based on feelings, it’s an act of your will.
- Lie 5 – You are still in emotional pain from the person who wronged you, so you believe you can’t forgive until you have worked through all of your wounds. However, forgiveness is not the absence of pain but the presence of mercy. What’s important to note is that just because you forgive someone it doesn’t mean the pain of the offense will leave you automatically (although it might). Jesus forgave us while hanging on the cross but the pain from the nails and beating remained. Walking out forgiveness and the process of walking out of pain are often two different things.
Choose Freedom Today
Unforgiveness is like an octopus, it has many tentacles that seep into your soul, and choke out your life. If you’re living in torment then I’d like to propose that working through forgiveness will deliver you from bondage and free you to begin living in peace!
My prayer for you today is that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened to see any areas of your life that are under the influence of unforgiveness. Remember that God is Redeemer of all things! There’s nothing in your life that is too messy, too big, too painful, too scary or even too ugly for Him to make whole! If you need help praying through forgiveness, I encourage you to check out this resource from Nothing Hidden Ministries.
How have you seen the fruit of forgiveness manifest in your life? Did any of the list of lies resonate with you? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments!
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