My question is about forgiveness, I know that we’re to forgive those who have hurt us. My question is can we truly forgive and walk away?
Great question and one that actually comes up often. Can we truly forgive and walk away? John 8:32 (NASB) says, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” Freedom can only be found in knowing truth. Forgiveness becomes infinitely easier when you understand its truth.
Why forgive, why would God tell us to do this unconditionally? The first and basic answer to this is because forgiveness is an act of love and love is the only way we are supposed to live. So there’s two sides of forgiveness I am going to focus on. If by the end of this a person doesn’t desire to be forgiving, then they have some serious things to think about.
Let’s start with love. 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NASB) says, “(Love) does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered.” Also, 1 Peter 4:8 (NASB) says, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” This “love covers” literally means that it covers over or hides. This does not mean that someone who is being abused simply forgets about it but that when they are wronged, because they love they look for a way to make it of no effect. Usually, people hurt others because they are hurting themselves. Always, motivation inspired by the devil is at play.
When we understand that a person who inflicts harm on another is motivated by sin which is motivated by the devil, we can see the truth behind it. Look at what Ephesians 4:26-27 (NASB) says. “BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” Anger in this context is caused by a wrong suffered. Anger that provokes revenge is the opposite of forgiveness which is a commandment of God and is therefore sin. Sin, especially this kind is an open door for the devil to act. This is why God says to forgive. It puts out a fire before it can spread.
People wonder why there is so much bad in the world and here is one of the greatest reasons why. It’s obvious when someone wrongs you, you feel terrible and want justice. However, God is the only righteous judge. He knows all motives and every heart, while we cannot. When we are provoked we lose the ability to judge accurately and demand to be avenged. The problem with this is we don’t take everything into account because we are being controlled by emotions not truth.
Have you ever wronged another? You have, we all have. If you haven’t yet, at some point you will. If you have made a mistake and received forgiveness, you understand the power of it because you know you didn’t deserve it. The opportunity that unforgiveness and anger gives the devil is an open door to cause more potential hurt, anger, and more unforgiveness. This in turn perpetuates more evil and then so on. We live in a world, motivated by the flesh and desires of humanity and the result is an existence plagued by the devil. Every wrong committed is another open door for another wrong to be committed. The devil is working through multiplication. The first couple of verses in James chapter 4 tell us all about this. Forgiveness is the power that stops the enemies ability to move forward!
Now onto the next main point. Forgiveness is an act of faith. Hebrews 13:5 (NASB) says, …“I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” and verse 6 says, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID.
WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?” Everything the devil does, every evil act, every wicked inspiration has one purpose, your focus. The devil is truly powerless against us, he has no power at all over us. So what he does is inspire people to act against others to provoke others to respond in kind. This perpetuates evil. When was the last time someone hurt you that you didn’t just want justice but revenge? It wasn’t enough for them to be stopped, you wanted them to hurt the way you hurt. The devil knows we have a tendency toward these things because he knows how sin works.
When you are hurting your focus is taken off God, your true help and supply, and goes to something else. That something becomes the the object of your focus which makes it an idol. You get so focused on the thing you forget about God, that He loves you and will always take care of you. You forget about serving Him and focus on that revenge. You forget about all the blessings He’s poured out on you and get covered in wrong thinking. Forgiveness is a closed door to this idol worship. It says, I may have experienced something negative, but my God is so much bigger. It is an ultimate act of faith!
The point I’ve tried to make is that God tells us to forgive because not doing so never gives us the chance to heal. If you get a cut or a burn, when it’s fresh it needs to be protected. However, eventually it needs air to heal. The refusal to forgive keeps that sin covered allowing it to fester. Most of the time, the only one your unforgiveness truly affects is you. You stay mad, you stay hurt, and you keep the door open for the devil to have a free ride!
If you keep your hand in the fire, it will burn until it’s destroyed. The refusal of a person to forgive is doing just that. You see, when we understand that not forgiving only destroys (especially us), we can understand that as hard as it may feel, it’s necessary if we are to heal. You will never be effective for God if you won’t forgive. You will never be effective in life either. Your forgiveness is required and needed to stop the advance of the devil. Jesus said in Matthew 12:30 (NASB), “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” If we insist on keeping the door open for the devil, we close the door to God. The next time you struggle to forgive ask yourself, “What do I want working in my life and that of my loved ones, God or demons?” When you know the truth, deciding to do right is not that hard at all!