Living in an imperfect world of imperfect people, we are bound to encounter some relational turbulence along the way. We can expect disappointment, hurt, conflict and offenses that can often lead to harbored emotions. Those negative emotions surface in our attitudes, conversations and physical bodies. All having a direct and consequential affect on our spiritual health. So let’s assume there is someone who you believe has offended you and though you’ve expressed your forgiveness towards them, the struggle to forgive still persists.
Let’s look at two scriptures regarding forgiveness…
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No!” Jesus replied, “seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:21-22)
You see, when it comes to relationships on any level, disagreements and/or offenses will occur. Why? Because people are human and as long as we are on this side of Heaven, we can certainly mishandle a few relationships. It may seem harmless to hold on to resentment, bitterness or unforgiveness, but truthfully, the one who holds the resentment suffers most. So, how should we respond? Our response to offenses and unforgiveness should be aligned with the teachings of Christ. It may seem difficult but God wants us to forgive one another because forgiveness has benefits. Here are four reasons to forgive when faced with offenses.
To begin, forgiveness is necessary for “you”. It liberates you from the spiritual crud in your heart. Negative emotions lead to negative thoughts that lead to negative actions that are attached to unforgiveness. Could unforgiveness be lurking at your door? I can only ask this question because I’ve been there in my life. Not only is unforgiveness time-consuming but mind-consuming. It depletes you of genuine joy and can only cause more pain to the offensive injury that already exists. Trust me, it’s best to forgive and move on.
Forgiveness allows the offender to experience the power of forgiveness in their life. When you’re loving and kind to someone who hasn’t been so loving and kind, it can make a difference whether they admit it or not. And it may not be immediately evident but in time, it will have an impact. One can never underestimate the power forgiveness. Grace extended to others often opens the door to more grace that is sufficient to heal wounds.
Did you know that forgiveness can bring healing to your body? Studies have shown that there is a direct relationship between unforgiveness and health-related illnesses. Over time, simmering grudges, resentment, anger, bitterness and unforgiveness will increase anxiety levels, blood pressure and other unwelcomed responses in your body. Your immune system will become compromised leading to a decline in your health. Unforgiveness can literally make you very sick, so allow God’s love to empower you to forgive others. It’s not worth putting your life at risk.
I believe that the greatest reason to forgive is because Christ has forgiven us. Let’s be honest, we can sometimes make poor choices in our words and actions, even when we consider ourselves to be at our best. When I consider the many things for which God has forgiven me, I try to always be mindful that I need to strive to not hold on to things against others. It is by the grace and mercy of God that we live and we shouldn’t take anything or anyone for granted. If the Father can forgive us of our drama, then surely we can forgive others of theirs.
Recently, I heard a Pastor say, “We are living in a time when we can’t afford not to forgive.” I agree. There has to come a point in your life when you know that “life is short” and you can’t waste time on things that distract you from receiving His best for you. You must be willing to choose forgiveness. You may be saying, “You don’t know what they said or did to me.” No, I don’t but I’ve heard the testimonies of individuals who’ve had atrocious acts committed against them, but with the grace of God, they made the decision to forgive. It probably wasn’t easy but that which is impossible in your own ability, is more than possible with God. People have forgiven their offenders for the unimaginable, yet some have the audacity to have grudges and negative attitudes because of the way someone simply looked at them!
Let it go! Unforgiveness can weigh you down like weights chained to your ankles. It hinders and restricts your spiritual mobility. You want to be free to love and give without grudgingly holding back because of unforgiveness. You want the blessings of God to be released into your life. Consider the two scriptures and commit yourself to applying them. God’s word is truth and if you really desire to live better, then you must choose to forgive better.
- The Importance of Forgiveness Bishop TD Jakes shares his insights on forgiveness and dealing with disappointment.
- Forgiveness Pat Robertson: People must forgive all who need forgiveness. The first person to forgive is yourself, then God, then others.
- Forgive Again Live Again Bishop David G. Evans shows how to release every unhealthy grudge in this highly-sought after four-part message of healing.