Here’s a little something-something that I’ve recently been relearning, and a life lesson I hope to pass along.
An opposite form of forgiveness is bitterness. When we hold on to un-forgiveness to anyone, no matter what they said or did to you, we become bitter towards that individual(s) and we tend to start building up walls of defense by creating negative thoughts of that person(s).
A quote I once read said, “You know when you have truly forgiven someone, when you see the one who wronged you, and you wish them well.”
Based off of that quote alone, how many of us can honestly say that we have 100% forgiven those who have wronged us? I could always say that I forgave anyone who wronged me, but based on my thoughts and how I reacted around that individual(s) told a different story.
Bitterness and un-forgiveness literally places each one of us in bondage.
1) Bondage of Anger: It will start to affect the way you react at work, home, over the phone, to your family and friends, etc. But that’s not you— is it?
2) Bondage of Depression: You can become depressed by feeling defeated, especially if the one who wronged you was someone very close to you.
3) Bondage of Stress: Physical stress that can harm your body. Stress is the leading cause of sore/tense muscles, mouth sores, and many types of sickness and diseases.
So how does was one become free from this bondage?
Easier said than done, right? Tell me about it.
Again, it’s something that does not come naturally; therefore it is not an easy thing to extend. The natural thing is to defend yourself and stand your ground. Heaven only knows that if you forgive that person, or in some cases be the first one to forgive, you will be seen as the weaker person. And there are times where we buy into the lie that says, as we hold onto the un-forgiveness, we are somehow hurting the one who wronged us. But the opposite in fact is true — on both sides. By holding onto that un-forgiveness and bitterness, the one we are really hurting — is ourselves. And if you are the one to apologize first or extend the forgiveness, even if it is not earned or deserved, YOU become the stronger one.
Maybe you say, “But what about me!? I deserve the right for my voice to be heard in the matter at hand, and the truth deserves a chance to be told?!” Or you’re even concerned about what others may be thinking of you when they hear lies or rumors about you.
Again, it comes naturally to defend ourselves when we’ve been wronged. But I’ve learned that the moment you take up a “sword” to defend yourself, (take matters into your own hands) that’s when God stops defending you. He stops fighting for you, on your behalf. God is your defender. The truth will come out. The lies and rumors will stop.
Romans 12:19, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”’
Psalm 18:2 says that, “The LORD is my Rock and my Fortress and my Deliverer, my God, my Rock, in whom I take refuge, my Shield, and the Horn (or the strength) of my salvation, my stronghold.” ESV
God says in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive you of your sins”.
So in other words, what He is saying is that, if you refuse to forgive others. Then He will not forgive you, of all the things that you do daily. I’m sure we would all hope to receive forgiveness, from God for all of our wrong doings. Then we also should be willing, to forgive others, like God forgives us. It doesn’t matter to God how many times they wrong us. When they seek our forgiveness, we are to forgive them every time.
Matthew 18:21-22, “‘Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.”
Don’t let your un-forgiveness, keep you in bondage, and cause your (prayers to be hindered, because of an unforgiving heart).
Mark 11:25, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you of your sins.”
So, lets us strive to be like apostle Paul who said in Philippians 3:13-14 “‘Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.'”
Just remember how much more energy it takes to be angry, or upset and unforgiving, than it does to have peace, from the Spirit of forgiveness. I encourage you today , even if you’re having a hard time forgiving someone who has wrong you, or if you have wronged someone, to ask for their forgiveness.
Please do so today so that you can release yourself from that bondage. You don’t even know if you have the rest of today, or even tomorrow to forgive them, or possibly receive their forgiveness. Because today or tomorrow is not promised to either of us. So let us not wait any longer to seek and extend forgiveness. There is a saying, “Only The Strong Survives,” but I say today that, Only The Strong, The Wise, and Mature can Forgive.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive, is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us, and there is some evil in the best of us. When we discover this we are less prone to hate our enemies.”
So in the end of it all — you gain nothing good from harvesting bitterness and un-forgiveness. Instead you gain pain, stress, anger, and depression. When we give God the weight that we carry from those who have wronged us, He carries it for us. We become free from the bondage.
Matthew West’s Song called “Forgiveness” says it best.
May God bless you as you too learn and re-learn the power of Forgiveness.