Forgiveness – A Requirement not an Option

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 
15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15 

    Most, if not all, of us have been hurt deeply by someone in our lives. And the closer they are to us, like family or best friends, the deeper the hurt. Our natural reactions are revenge, anger and bitterness. Many of us also withdraw. When I was hurt by a family member, I withdrew from that part of the family (all of them, not just the one that hurt me). When I was hurt by best friends, I withdrew from having a “best” friend. I’m getting better, but I still struggle with having very close friends.

    Often, we choose not to forgive because we want to “punish” the ones that hurt us. When in fact most of the time, they don’t even know the damage they have done, or they don’t care…in other words, YOU are the one hurting, not them. Romans 12:19 says we are not to have revenge but are to let God settle the score with those who have wronged us.

    Forgiveness is not easy and doesn’t happen instantly. It is something we decide to do, then begin the process of forgiving. This process may take longer for some than it does for others and it also may depend on the severity of hurt.

    Forgiving doesn’t mean we condone or accept what they did. It does mean that we are choosing to no longer let that hurt be a burden to us.

    Forgiving might be easier if they came to us and asked for our forgiveness. This at least lets us know they acknowledge that they hurt us (and may be truly sorry). But, remember when Jesus forgave those who crucified Him? They hadn’t asked Him for forgiveness.

25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them,
so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25

    According to Matthew 6:14-15 and Mark 11:25, we MUST forgive in order for God to forgive us. It’s not an option. And I DEFINITELY want His forgiveness! How about you?

How to forgive:

-Begin forgiving by realizing that none of us are perfect and we all make mistakes. In forgiving my abuser, I began looking at his past. Many past hurts and poor choices of himself and others had led him to bitterness, anger, rebellion, and jealousy. While that isn’t an excuse for the abuse, it is a reason. “Hurt People, Hurt People” In other words, those who have been hurt, as a result, hurt others.

-Then think about is how much you have been forgiven. At one time, I was so focused on my hurts that I didn’t see the fact that I have also hurt others in the past. I pray they have forgiven me (as I trust God has also) for what I’ve done intentionally AND unintentionally.

-Pray for those who have hurt you. I know this is a though one. It’s hard to have compassion to pray for our enemies but in doing this, two things happen. The Holy Spirit begins to work in you in order for you to forgive AND the Holy Spirit will begin to work in THEM also. I’ve witnessed this several times.

-Repent from hanging on to bad feelings against those who hurt you, so you can be set free. When we harbor bitterness, hatred and anger, we are also sinning. Therefore, we need to pray for forgiveness for our thoughts and attitudes.

Who do you need to forgive?

Maybe you need to forgive God or yourself?
(Sometimes this is more difficult than forgiving others.)

Don’t miss out on God’s many blessings by remaining in bondage of unforgiveness.
~Joanie Lawrence-Cain