20 June, 2014
Breaking the Chains
It seems that anymore one of the topics that comes up in my discussions and in counseling is that of people who say they cannot forgive someone. I say it so often that I sound like a broken record; "It's not that you can't forgive... it is that you are unwilling to forgive." When we choose not to forgive, it is not the other person who is really being harmed or hindered. We are hurting ourselves more than anyone. I've actually had people come to me and ask me to forgive them for things for which they have carried a grudge for years (in one case, more than 20 years) and being absolutely honest... I did not even know what they were talking about because I had let it go years ago and did not even remember the event they were talking about. They had been in chains of bitterness and resentment over something that I did not even remember! It's just a fact... an unforgiving attitude can keep you from moving forward in life. That other person most likely does not ever give a thought to the thing that has you bound up with rage and resentment. So isn’t it time you got serious about forgiving the one who hurt you? I know... I hear it all the time: “But if I forgive them, then they’ll have gotten away with it.” Baloney! They’re not getting away with anything! God is the one who keeps record and He alone is the one who will judge. And I hate to break this to you, but God is not going to ask for your opinion in the matter when He does judge that person. For all you know, that person may have asked God to forgive them for their wrong doing long ago, so they are forgiven, God has forgotten and you alone are the one lugging around the ball and chain of bitterness. Something to think about; don't you agree? We need to keep in mind that our critics are making decisions about us based on limited information, but God knows the truth and He will deal with your detractors in His own time and way. So when you and I continue to try to defend ourselves and prove them wrong, we’re stepping into territory that belongs exclusively to God.
The Bible says: “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone...never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord. Instead, ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads’. Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good” (Ro 12:17-21 NLT).
Do you understand that Satan’s goal is to get you all tied up in knots and steal your peace? He wins when we stay bound up with an unforgiving spirit. Don’t play into his hands! Christ, your example, prayed for those who drove the nails into His hands: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Let's be honest... some people are just mean. Some are wicked people, and they get their jollies by seeing you tormented within by what they've done to you. They may really think they’re smart, but one day they will give an account for their actions. In the meantime... Don’t come down to their level by plotting and retaliating. You become just like them when you do.
Want to experience real freedom? Forgive them, and let it go.