It is a very difficult subject, I know. Forgiveness is one of our favorite words as Christians, right up there with love. They set the foundation of whom we are in Christ- forgiven and loved! When I consider forgiveness, I ponder my entire life, the life before I made the decision to follow Jesus Christ, and the life I have led since. Both sides of that line include forgiveness, both sides have brokenness, but only one has the life altering experience of freedom. A release occurs when we have completely forgiven. The journey begins with our personal forgiving in faith, and is complete as the Lord does His work within us through to completion.
It is that last part that people do not realize is not about us, but comes through Him.
We will know when we are still holding ourselves captive by not forgiving. We still get angry, feel hurt and pained, hold onto bitterness, and carry a deep sense of resentment against the person. People often think these things are arrows of justification aimed at the one who wronged them. While we may ‘feel’ it is justified, if those feelings are still there, you are the one imprisoned, and no, you have not forgiven.
Those feelings stay in our mind and thoughts, and Satan has a way of convincing us we are right to feel the way we do. Of course we are going to feel hurt and anger, even be resentful from the pain others cause us, that is normal. What is not normal is to hold onto those feelings indefinitely.
When asked about forgiveness Jesus offered the answer:
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21-22)
We would be incapable of such forgiveness without God. When you chose Christ, you chose the Spirit to live within you, bringing us through our pain and circumstances into a complete forgiveness- repeatedly. That same forgiveness God pours out for us we are now able to pour out to others.
Jesus came to this world, the old has gone and new has come. God may have limited forgiveness in the Old Testament, but Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection brought about a new way. For us to live fully, to experience a complete relationship and joy, he laid out the path to do so. In being unforgiving, we limit His mighty work in us, and therefore, limit ourselves to the world’s way of handling things.
Forgiveness is not the acceptance of behavior, it’s the release of the emotional impact brought on by the actions of others. It is the systematic walk into wholeness and healing. Your calling is not to live a life of personal captivity; the Father’s intentions for you are FREEDOM.