Have you ever struggled with forgiving someone? Are you there right now? Forgiveness is difficult. Most of us wrestle with it, knowing we ought to forgive, but harboring anger within our hearts. When someone wrongs you, it is hard to overlook. When they hurt your children, it usually means war, except for one thing: we are commanded to forgive.
What does forgiveness look like?
We hear the words, “Forgive one another”, but resentment still lingers. Bitterness takes root, and left to grow, it will consume us like weeds taking over a flowerbed.
Weeds are almost impossible to get rid of, and a bitter heart is much the same.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret – it only causes harm. (Ps. 37:8 NKJV)
The anger we feel when we have been hurt is a natural human emotion, just like hatred. The resentment we feel today will fuel the hatred we feel tomorrow. We cannot allow our emotions to rule us. When we identify these potentially harmful feelings, we must pray.
God will help us relinquish the hard feelings. The problem is sometimes, we want to hold onto our hurt. We want to wear it like a badge. I am the one who was mistreated. They deserve what they get. That is not what the Bible teaches.
As Psalm 37:8 above says, only harm can come from allowing these raw emotions to grow. That harm is self-inflicted. This person has already insulted us, injured us, and injected their venom into us. We can choose to allow them to destroy us, or we can forgive. They win when we cannot forgive.
Unforgiveness will harden our hearts. It will disrupt our fellowship with God. It will hinder answered prayer. It will steal our joy. This is why it is important to take the matter to our heavenly Father immediately before it takes root. It is only by the grace of God that we can forgive. Do you realize we are never more like God than when we forgive? He has forgiven us so much. How can we not forgive?
I am not speaking as someone who easily forgives. I am like Peter. Seven times should be their limit. I am right there with you, trying to forgive the unforgivable.
Read Ephesians 4:26-27.
What does verse 26 say about anger?
If we continue in anger and wrath, what is really happening (v. 27)?
Anger can boil over like a hot pot of water. It spews out from us onto those we love, especially our family. Sometimes, we feel safe doing that rather than projecting our rage on those we are really upset with. We also like to tell everyone about how we have been treated unfairly. In both cases, would it not be better if we turn the heat off the boiling pot? That is what forgiveness does. It removes the source.
Now read Ephesians 4:31-32. Verse 31 tells us what we need to rid ourselves of, and verse 32 tells us what we need to do.
Of course, this is easier said than done, and it can only be accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Father God, help us forgive others. Remove the anger, bitterness and wrath. Help us move on with tender hearts as suitable witnesses for You. In Jesus’ name, amen.