Disclaimer: If you are being abused, forgiveness does not equate to allowing abuse to continue, NEVER! Abuse should not be tolerated at all! If you are being abused, get out and seek help immediately!
I’m struggling with resentment and unforgiveness. This person is a big part of my life but is often at odds with me and has been verbally quite unkind to me for many, many years. It has eaten away at my self esteem and self worth. While things are getting better I have a hard time with resentment and unforgiveness especially when they slip up again. It’s like it reopens the wound. I know we are to forgive constantly, but how do I do this? How do I know I’ve forgiven even when it still hurts.
Mark 11:25 (NASB)
Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.
The lack of forgiveness is a trap. 2 Corinthians 2:11 says, “so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” The problem is even many Christians aren’t aware of this. The truth is, forgiveness is not a hard thing but pride is.
Let me start by saying Jesus said to forgive as recorded in the above scripture in Mark. If He said do it then it is more than possible, it’s easy! Wait, what?!? That’s right, I said it, easy. Jesus didn’t give us any commands we couldn’t accomplish. He came and did what we couldn’t do only asking of us what we can. So the first thing we must know is we must get our understanding in line with the truth. To do this lets look at what forgiveness actually is.
People always look at forgiving as if it’s something that is for the one who has perpetrated the wrong. The truth is, forgiveness doesn’t always or sometimes ever do anything at all to the person who has wronged us. Forgiveness isn’t about them, it’s about us.
God judges each of us perfectly and individually. Every human will someday stand before the Lord and give an account for everything they’ve said and done. One thing we will not do is give account for what anyone else has done. Forgiveness does not free someone of their actions. Forgiveness frees you from the actions of others. Let me explain.
Have you ever associated something you love with a bad event that has happened? For example, maybe someone you love suffered something terrible around a holiday. Forever that holiday is associated in your mind with that event and that makes it hard to enjoy. That is because you haven’t forgiven it! See the word forgiveness literally means to leave, abandon, or disregard. The idea is that it is not to have control over your thoughts or emotions. I will return to that later.
Forgiveness isn’t saying, “You’ve hurt me but that’s ok, you can do it again.” Forgiveness is making up in your mind that something will not hold you any longer. See, when someone hurts you, the pain of what has happened makes you focus inwardly. That focus distracts you from what God wants you to do. Pride rises up and says, “That wasn’t fair to me! I want retribution!” That pride and those thoughts stir each other until you are so obsessed with what someone did, it becomes impossible to see how to move forward.
It’s like being stuck in quicksand. People who get trapped in quicksand only focus on getting out. They start struggling which makes the situation worse which in turn magnifies their emotion which in turn puts them in a worse situation. See the cycle? Not forgiving someone works much the same way. Pride (focus on oneself) stirs emotion. Emotion stirs pride. These things go back and forth until a person is so stuck they can’t tell up from down.
The reason we need to forgive people is because they become the face of the trial to us. If we would be honest with ourselves, as our emotions spiral out of control, we can end up blaming a person who has wronged us in areas they never even wronged us in. We see this in our society with the constant blame game. You can blame someone else and let’s say you’re even totally right. So what! Someone wronged you, how are your feelings of insecurity going to help you?
Now before I completely lose everyone, let me explain this. Also, I am getting back to what I said I would. Forgiveness is about keeping yourself sober. Why does the Bible have so much to say about sobriety? Because insobriety is filling yourself so much with one thing, you can’t see another, in this case the right thing. What happens to us does not matter! Everyone will have bad things happen to them, we live in a fallen world. Only what WE do and how WE respond will determine our outcome!
1 Peter 5:8 instructs us, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” The thing about any trap is distraction. Get something distracted by what they love (in the case of being wronged, themselves) and you’ve got them trapped. Think about it, you don’t hang a gold ring on a fishing hook and cast it into the lake. Fish won’t be drawn by that. When someone listens to the devil and does something against you and you respond in kind, the devil has you right where he wants you! You have taken the bait! When you forgive, there’s no bait had and he can’t get you out of sober thinking!
There’s much more to this, which will probably be another Faith Fix but I think this at least helps us understand forgiveness. When we understand it isn’t about them, it’s about us and sober thinking we should be able to be better equipped for it.
Let me end on this note. I have mentioned pride. Pride is nasty, it is ugly to God. We have to understand this. Pride is essentially and simply self love. Not self respect, self love and what that amounts to is idol worship. People worship themselves! Have you ever looked at social media? I’m not trying to be mean but when someone has been hurt, their need for revenge comes from this pride. What this all amounts to is this: one person’s wrong (the thing perpetrated) ends up being another person’s wrong (retaliation).
Romans 12:19 tells us, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.” Why do you suppose this is? God is just! He knows what you don’t. He sees all angles, all directions, and knows all intents. Let’s leave His job up to Him and do what we are called to do. Not forgiving someone doesn’t hurt them, it hurts you.
1 Peter 2:23 (NASB)
and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;
To be continued…