Like most of you, I have had some spectacularly fabulous opportunities to be offended and hurt by the attitudes, words and actions of others. I have had my seasons of grappling with forgiveness.
Jesus spoke a lot about forgiveness. It was the reason he was born: so that he could also die for the forgiveness of the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). That’s a lot of forgiveness!
At the end of Jesus’ earthly life, He was confronted—in a very raw and painful way—with the very message of forgiveness that He Himself had preached to others. He was now faced with the choice to forgive (or not) those who had falsely accused Him, condemned Him to die for a crime He was innocent of, and subjected Him to cruelty, pain and the utter humiliation of the cross.
When offences come—and they certainly will come (Luke 17:1)—we can find ourselves at a crossroads that can define us, depending on which way we turn: either the path of forgiveness, or the road that leads to bitterness and inevitable misery.
Bitterness is a poisonous drink to swallow. It rots the soul and body from the inside out! The Bible calls it a defiler of many (Hebrews 12:15). As Jesus hung there on the cross in His suffering and deep sorrow, He was offered a BITTER drink to swallow, but it says HE DID NOT DRINK IT.
Then they gave Him wine mingled with gall to drink, but He did not take it.Mark 15:23
Jesus proved the power of forgiveness on the cross when He uttered the words: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.
You might be thinking: “Well they sure as eggs knew what they were doing when they said this to me… and when they did that to me.” Can I let you in on a little secret: the carnal nature is full of ego, ambition and appetites of the flesh (not to mention fears, hurts and crushing insecurities that often drive people’s responses). So it should not surprise us then that opportunities for us to be offended, and for us to offend someone else will come. It’s a playground of swings and roundabouts and without the grace to forgive, we stay on the playground: stunted in our personal and spiritual growth.
Forgiveness is releasing a person from an obligation and cancelling any debt they may owe us. It’s worth noting here that there is a debt we owe to one another which is spoken of in Romans 13:8:
Don’t owe anything to anyone, except your outstanding debt to continually love one another, for the one who learns to love has fulfilled every requirement of the law of God.Romans 13:8
We cannot change what happened in the past—what was said, what was done, what was left undone—but we can change its affect on us. Unforgiveness drags the past into the present so that we are never free of it, but we have the power to keep past wrongs BEHIND us (in the rear view mirror of our lives), instead of a constant stumbling block or road block in front of us.
As we keep our eyes fixed on the love of God, we can keep moving forward with hope. That image in the rear view mirror becomes smaller and smaller, until it is eventually out of sight because we have moved on and turned a corner.
If you are struggling to forgive someone—or maybe even to forgive yourself—with God’s help you can! Remember Jesus has an unlimited reserve of forgiveness! He is the ultimate healer and the ultimate burden-bearer—the One who is intimately acquainted with forgiveness and the One who can restore a damaged soul. You CAN let go of the offence and be free of it—forever—by giving it over to Him.
He won’t brush aside the bruised and broken. He will be gentle with the weak and feeble, until his victory releases justice.Matthew 12:20
Life is too short to allow the mistakes and wrongs of others—or our own faults and failures—to imprison our hearts for another moment.
Give yourself a better (and much happier) future by refusing to be bitter and resentful. Jesus wants you free—free from bitterness, unforgiveness, anger and resentment—free to live your best purpose-filled life, with the peace of God standing guard over your heart and mind (Phil. 4:6-7).
Finally get rid of the heavy, oppressive load you’ve been carrying: FORGIVE.
Prayer of Forgiveness
Dear Heavenly Father
I come to you in the Name of Jesus!
I bring to You all my hurt, anger and pain
I give you all the unforgiveness and bitterness I have held in my heart
I give all of it over to you and release my hold on it completely!
I let go of it right now!
I choose to forgive!
I receive your full and total forgiveness.
I receive your perfect peace.
Thank you for restoring and healing my soul.
Thank you that you love me!
Thank you that you said you would never leave me nor forsake me—no matter what!
In Jesus’ Name I believe I am free!
And forgive us our debts (trespasses and wrong doings), as we have forgiven our debtors [letting go of both the wrong and the resentment].Matthew 6:12