Like most of you, I have had some great opportunities to be offended and hurt by the attitudes and words of others. I have had my seasons of grappling with forgiving.
Jesus spoke a lot about forgiveness—after all, it was the purpose of His earthly mission: to die for the forgiveness of the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).
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. 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 didn’t commit, and subjected Him to torture, pain and the humiliation of the cross.
When offences come—and Jesus said they will certainly 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 frustration.
Bitterness is a poisonous pill to swallow. It will rot the soul and body from the inside out! It is 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 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 knew what they were doing when they said this… and when they did that.” Reality check: the carnal nature is full of ego, ambition and fleshly appetites (not to mention hurts, fears and insecurities that drive its responses). So it shouldn’t surprise us then that offences will come, and that from time to time, someone may also need to forgive us.
Forgiveness is releasing a person from an obligation and cancelling a debt owed to you. You cannot change what happened in the past—what was said, what was done, what was left undone.
Unforgiveness drags the past into the present so that you are never free of it, but you have the power to keep past wrongs behind you (in the rear view mirror of your life), instead of a stumbling block in front of you.
As you keep your eyes fixed on the love of God towards you, you 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 you have moved on and turned a corner.
If you are struggling to forgive someone—or yourself—it is possible—with God’s help! Jesus is the ultimate healer and burden-bearer—the One who can restore your soul. You can let go of the offence by giving it over to Him. Remember He is intimately familiar with the power of forgiveness.
Life is too short to allow the mistakes and wrongs of others, or your own faults and failures, to imprison your heart for another minute.
Give yourself a better (and happier) future by refusing to be bitter and resentful. Jesus wants you free—free from bitterness and unforgiveness—free to live YOUR BEST PURPOSE-FILLED LIFE, with the peace of God standing guard over your heart and mind (Phil. 4:6-7).
It’s your time to shine! 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