// June 18th, 2012 // Loux Family News
“The difference between holding on to a hurt or releasing it with forgiveness is like the difference between laying your head down at night on a pillow filled with thorns or a pillow filled with rose petals.” (Loren Fincher)
The condition and posture of our heart is the key to our life in Christ. In Proverbs 4:23 it says this. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
God searches our hearts, revealing areas that will block our relationship with Him (1 Samuel 16:7; Romans 8:27). If we think we can go through life loving Jesus while remaining in a place of unforgiveness and offense towards others, we are sorely mistaken.
In Proverbs 27:19 it says, “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.
The Bible talks about three different areas of forgiveness:
- The forgiveness God gives to us (Luke 7:47 and 1st John 1:9)
- The forgiveness we give to ourselves (Phil 3:13-14)
- The forgiveness we give to others (Luke 17:3-4)
These three areas of forgiveness are so important in our lives. We must understand what the forgiveness of God through the shed blood of Jesus (Colossians 1:13-14; 1 Peter 1:2) is all about. We must also learn to forgive ourselves – which simply means receiving God’s gift of forgiveness and agreeing with it. It’s important though to not live in that place of sin, over and over again. When we ask for God’s forgiveness, we must do so with a truly repentant heart, trusting Him to help us in our weakness, to be totally dependent on Him for the strength we need to resist sin and to walk in a life of victory over it. God knows our hearts and our motives and He will judge us accordingly.
It’s not an option to forgive others. If we refuse to do so, then unforgiveness will block the daily expression of God’s forgiveness in our lives.
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” Matthew 6:14-15 (read also 18:21-35).
There are stages of unforgivness and they might look something like this.
- The initial hurt or offense – Someone says or does something that wounds our heart (Psalm 109:22)
- Resentment – If we don’t deal with this immediately, we will begin to harbor resentment..our hearts will mull over everything and we’ll begin to dwell on the hurt, being filled with self-pity and a continuing anger against the person who hurt us (Colossians 3:8-10,12-14).
- Retaliation – we may get back at that person, usually either by not speaking to them, or by slandering them to others (Romans 12:17-20).
- Bitterness – when we allow unforgiveness to defile our hearts (Hebrews 12:15; Ephesians 4:29-32).
When Jesus died for us, he took the judgment we all deserved. We now owe Him a massive debt that we will never be able to repay. But God doesn’t require us to repay it . But, now we express our love back to God by loving others. We can’t be close to God while holding onto hatred and unforgiveness towards others.
When we forgive those who’ve hurt us, we acknowledge several things:
- God’s love for us (Matt.18:21-35; Luke 6:36; John 13:34-35; Psalm 103:7-14).
- Our love for God (1 John 4:20).
- Our trust in God’s justice (Proverbs 28:5)
- Our faith in God’s plan for us (Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11).
- Our readiness to suffer abuse (Matt.5:11-12).
- Our enemy is not people (Ephesians 6:12).
- Our secure position in Christ…I have been established, anointed and sealed by God ( 2 Corinthinans 1:21-22).
If we choose to forgive, the hurt will most likely not go away immediately, but forgiveness has nothing to do with feelings. Forgiveness is a decision…a process. If we decide not to forgive, the hurt is like an open, festering wound, that is very difficult to heal. When we make the decision to forgive, the wound gets cleaned up, and the healing proess can begin.
God is able to heal every heart. In fact, this is part of the Gospel message (Isaiah 61:1). But more than that, God wants to use us to minister that healing to others. Only when we have experienced both the personal forgiveness of God and the grace to forgive others can we be used to minister healing to others.
Life is hard, filled with a lot of pain, but we can choose to be agents of God’s love in the middle of it all, by embracing His heart of love for us and for others, choosing the road of forgiveness. Then we will witness all the enemy meant for harm (by trying to steal, kill and destroy) to be turned into something beautiful for God’s glory.
I choose to forgive myself for my mistakes and I choose to forgive those who’ve hurt me. I choose to believe that God’s love makes a way in the middle of all the brokenness and pain. Forgiveness is life and healing and I pray that each of us will choose it every day that we are blessed with another breath to walk it out.
(Most of this material was drawn from “Walking in Forgiveness” at churchlink.com)