If you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, your Father in heaven will forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
“I can’t forgive!!! Why should I? Where is the justice?” All too familiar questions aren’t they? At one time I was actually proud that I was unforgiving.The hurt and pain I had suffered growing up in domestic violence made me feel that I was completely justified in my decision to retaliate in any tangible way that I could. This then became a dysfunctional pattern written on my subconscious mind, I could cut friends or colleagues off that had wronged me without so much as a second thought. It was my safety defence mechanism – so I thought.
As God began to whisper into my life his unfailing forgiveness, a new perspective began to settle in my heart. I began to experience a heart change and practice forgiveness on a daily basis – it didn’t come naturally to me… it felt so foreign and unjust at times. Until I realised one day while reading that forgiveness is actually a protective measure that God commands in order to shield my heart, it keeps me safe and allows for him to deal with the offender justly.
In the counselling room un-forgiveness would have to be one of the most common causes for emotional and spiritual blockages. In fact, it more than often manifests as a physical problem as well. Allowing God to remove the bitter root of un-forgiveness from your heart is one of the best protective measures God has designed to bring us true healing. Grasping the concept of what Jesus has done for us and how often he grants forgiveness to you on a daily basis is the best way to understand how forgiveness works.
I choose to forgive, because God commands it. Never wait until you feel like forgiving, you will never get to that point. Does the offender deserve forgiveness and mercy? Probably not! Is it letting them ‘off the hook?’ Not at all, it’s handing the situation over to God and saying, “I give you permission Father to bring real justice to this situation.” Forgiveness and mercy needs to become a habit. We choose to run on obedience rather than emotions which can so often deceive us. As soon as un-forgiveness takes root in our heats it colours and distorts our views on others as we judge according to past hurts. It quickly becomes a vicious cycle and a blessing blocker.
God not only designed mercy and forgiveness to set us free but he modelled it in the best way possible.
*Without forgiveness there is no freedom
*Without forgiveness there is no recovery
*Without forgiveness there is no healing
Forgiveness is not necessarily an easy path. It is something we need to work on and choose each day. Perhaps it will make your choice simpler if we remind ourselves what forgiveness is not.
Forgiveness is not…
Denying the evil that was done.
Excusing sinful behaviour.
Pretending it never happened.
Glossing over the pain you suffered.
Removing all consequences for wrong behaviour.
Overlooking criminal behaviour.
Acting as if the sin never happened.
Letting others continually abuse you.
Pretending you weren’t hurt.
Forgiveness is not the same thing as reconciliation or restoration. And it’s certainly not a magic formula for mending relationships overnight. It’s not a tool to manipulate others into confessing what they did. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean the relationship will be restored, particularly if that relationship is an unsafe one. It is simply saying to God, “I choose not to carry this anymore….I’m tired, this is heavy. I place this down, so that you can bring justice and I choose not to retaliate or use this against the person involved.”
Here is a prayer we at Flourish use in our Pathways sessions to bring about healing and freedom… Seek God on who you need to forgive and write a list. Pray through the prayer out loud for each person and allow your feelings to surface. You will find true freedom and healing as you choose not to carry the pain anymore. God wants to carry it for you…will you let Him? CW
Michelle is one half of Flourish Consulting, which is a coaching, counselling and wellbeing service established for women across all Christian denominations. Michelle writes and styles for various magazines and publications and is passionate about serving God in prayer ministry.
“Victory Over Darkness” by Neil T Anderson, Regal Books
“Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer, Warner Books