Clean house, clean body, clean heart! What a way to start the new year! We all have great ideas on how to improve our bodies and minds in the next year but sometimes we neglect our hearts. Why cling to the same resentment, bitterness or disappointment year in and year out when it is in your capacity to let it go and to restore relationships?
Have you been disappointed and your expectations shattered? Have you been treated unfairly, have you been abused physically or verbally? All of us have had to deal with some kind of rejection and the question remains: Have you allowed these things to define you, or even to define the guilty party?
I would like to encourage you to take charge of your heart, clean it out and forgive every single person who has ever harmed you in some way.
What forgiveness is not:
It’s sometimes easier to understand an abstract concept such as forgiveness – by understanding what it is not.
When you forgive someone, you don’t pretend that it never happened, neither do you approve of what has happened. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you justify bad behaviour or wrong choices, it doesn’t approve of abuse and it doesn’t accept sin in any form. It doesn’t mean that you allow others to walk over you, nor does it imply that you have to tell the person whom you are forgiving that you forgave him/her. Forgiveness also doesn’t mean that the practical consequences of sin are necessarily cancelled.
What is forgiveness then?
Forgiveness is firstly an informed decision in your mind that you do not want to cling to bitterness and therefore choose to release the guilty party of any debt he or she might owe you. It means that you give up the right to get even.
Why should I forgive?
I forgive in order to free myself to live a life without bitterness, I forgive to restore broken relationships and to enjoy abundance and freedom. I forgive to remove the power someone else has over my life, my joy and my peace. God expects of us to forgive others, as we have been forgiven by Him. Some people have been harmed 30 or 40 years ago, yet they have never forgiven and thereby the perpetrator has had power over their emotions for the last 30- 40 years. It has permeated every relationship since and caused them to miss out on beautiful moments with those who love them. It seems ludicrous that we cling to these hurts when we are able to walk in freedom by choosing to forgive.
“Tolerate the weaknesses of those in the family of faith, forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ. If you find fault with someone, release this same gift of forgiveness to them.” Colossians 3:13 (TPT)
“And when you pray, make sure you forgive the faults of others so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you withhold forgiveness from others, your Father withholds forgiveness from you.” Matthew 6:14-15 (The Passion Translation – TPT)
“and if you see him going the wrong direction, cry out and correct him. If there is true repentance on his part, forgive him. No matter how many times in one day your brother sins against you[a] and says, ‘I’m sorry; I am changing; forgive me,’ you need to forgive him each and every time.” Luke 17:3-4 (TPT)
“ And whenever you stand praying, if you find that you carry something in your heart against another person, release him and forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also release you and forgive you of your faults.” Mark 11:25 (TPT)
How do I forgive?
I acknowledge that the other person is human, like me, and in need of a Saviour. I renounce the right to take revenge and I revise my feelings toward the other person. This implies letting go of hate and anger. Sometimes it is sufficient to go through this process once, and sometimes you need to do this daily, or even multiple times daily, especially when you are regularly faced with a difficult situation or person.
Easier said than done?
Many years ago, I struggled with the whole concept of forgiving someone who was indeed guilty. How can you just say it is OK when it really isn’t? I then had a revelation of how guilty I was before God and that because of His forgiveness to me, I am able to extend the same grace to others. In fact, God commands us to forgive and it can be one of the hardest things to do as our pain, disappointment and sometimes disillusionment is real. However, the consequence of living with bitterness and unforgiveness can cause much greater pain and ultimately destroy you. When we forgive others, we are not saying what they did was OK, but we release them to God and thereby we let go of the power they had over us.
The good news is that when we repent of our sins before God, His grace is huge and He forgives us. The result is that we are free to enjoy His presence and have access to all the riches available to us in Jesus Christ.
“ He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.” Ephesians 1:7 (NLT)
“ … and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:12-14 (NIV)
“For this is the blood that seals the new covenant. It will be poured out for many for the complete forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:28 (TPT)
Won’t you make an informed decision today to let go of your hurt and to forgive, allowing God’s grace to flow through you to others?
Father, I choose to forgive _____ today. I release them from any debt they owe me. Holy Spirit, I ask you to bring restoration as I trust you to change my heart and set me free from any negative emotions. I choose to walk in love and ask you to fill my heart with compassion and to lead me in a life of freedom and fruitfulness. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ. Amen