In life, we all encounter situations that test our capacity to forgive. Forgiveness can often seem impossible for some if others have wronged us, faced injustice, or experienced deep pain.
The power of forgiveness should not be underestimated. God can and will give us the strength to do so. It's available to us. The Holy Spirit can walk you through it.
Sadly, many of us have built walls around ourselves that keep us from the beautiful gift God has given us: the power to forgive. Don't let this happen to you.
Walking Unforgiveness Is Destructive to Our Lives
1 Peter 5:8 (NLT) — 8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
Ephesians 4:27 (AMP) — 27 Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him].
The enemy is always looking for an opportunity to get a foothold in someone's life. We, as humans, allow him in different ways. Some may permit him in through gossip, lying, lust, anger, etc. Also, once he gets a foothold, he will use other things to compound it to make matters worse. His ultimate goal is to destroy our lives. Never give a foothold to him. Once we do, we are allowing him to bring destruction into our lives,
Unforgiveness, if left unchecked, can lead to bitterness and malice. When we harbor unforgiveness in our hearts, we allow the enemy to have a stronghold on our lives.
Bitterness robs us of joy, distorts our perception of others, and harms our mental and physical well-being. It is a dark path that we must avoid at all costs.
My Journey to Forgive Someone I Loved
Years ago, I remember getting a book from a pastor who visited our church that he wrote. It was about forgiveness. I don't recall the exact title. I also don't know why I got it other than the Holy Spirit inspired me. At that point in my life, I didn't feel like I had unforgiveness, and it was easy for me to forgive others.
I will never forget as I was reading the book in my car while having lunch. The Holy Spirit told me, "You have unforgiveness towards your sister." I was shocked as He said that to me. I sat there thinking about it and examining my heart.
The Holy Spirit showed me that I had unforgiveness because of the way my sister treated me as a kid. She is four years older than me. I was always the pest, and it was true. I was not a little angel and would never try to make you think that. I did things purposely to attempt to get a rise out of her. So, in saying all that, we did not have a good relationship as kids.
Then, as adults, we always got along. We never had any arguments or bitter times. But as I sat there, I realized I still resent her. Tears began to stream down my face, and I cried out to God for help. At that moment, I let everything go and said aloud that I forgive my sister. Then the rush of peace came into my heart, and I knew God had his way in my life.
Today, I love my sister like crazy. She is one of the sweetest people you would ever meet. See how good God is!
We Must Walk in Forgiveness - Forgiveness is a Command, Not a Suggestion
Matthew 6:15 (NLT) — 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
As believers in Christ Jesus, we don't have an option when it comes to forgiving others. There is no way around it. It doesn't matter how severe it is. It doesn't matter what they did to you. It doesn't even matter if they have said sorry or not. I know this sounds harsh to some.
These are not my words. These are the words of Jesus Christ. He even said, if you don't forgive others, my Father will not forgive you! It's a commandment. Just as God has graciously forgiven us, we must extend the same grace to others. Forgiveness is an act of obedience and an expression of our love for Christ.
Also, God would never ask something of us unless it was possible. I promise you that you can do it through the strength of the Holy Spirit.
Forgiving Others Should Be a Lifestyle
For some, walking in forgiveness is easier than for others. I can't say that I ever really struggled with it. I just never liked the ugly feeling inside of me. It was always easier to release it than harbor it.
Also, I have never dealt with hardships due to others, as some people have dealt with. For example, my good friend's brother was murdered. He knows who the person is who did it. That, to me, would be way more difficult to deal with. My heart goes out to him and the rest of the family.
Years ago, I had a person who did not honor his word when it came to owing me money. I was mowing my lawn with a push mower. As I was pushing in one direction, I thought horrible things about the guy. Then, in the next strip, I was telling myself to forgive him and let it go. I believe I was even out there talking to myself. I'm sure my neighbors thought I was crazy! Finally, I yelled, "I let you go now; I choose not to walk in unforgiveness towards you." From that day on, I forgave him.
To walk in forgiveness, we must be intentional about it and put in the required effort. It can be a process, and the Holy Spirit will walk you through it. In my own experiences, I have learned that harboring unforgiveness only hinders our well-being and holds us captive. We can free ourselves from its toxic grip by choosing to release the burden of unforgiveness.
The Complexity of Forgiveness
I never want to minimize anyone's pain they are going through due to being violated by someone. As I said in this article, I have not struggled with the anguish or violation that others have.
Forgiveness is a complex concept that encompasses various aspects. Sometimes, it is more than just saying to someone; just forgive them and let it go. That could be a very insensitive comment, even though you may mean well.
Years ago, there was a situation that took place in our family. I don't want to give details. It didn't directly happen to me but to one of my family members. It was a punch in the gut. I took it pretty hard and watched my family go through it. On top of it, the individual who did it was a trusted friend.
This matter needed more than a couple of prayers to move on. It required my pastor to get involved and counsel me. Throughout the whole time, he was very compassionate and caring. What brought me over the hump and into forgiveness, he shared his own stories with me and how he had to choose forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a personal journey guided by the Holy Spirit. While some offenses can be easily forgiven and relationships restored, others require deeper discernment and wisdom. You may need trusted friends to be by your side or even seek a professionally trained person to walk you through the process. It is crucial to seek God's guidance in navigating the path of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is Releasing and Healing
Forgiveness is not about releasing individuals from legal accountability or what other ramifications result from their offense, if there may be any. It is about freeing ourselves from the emotional burden they have placed upon us. Holding on to unforgiveness only repeats the cycle of pain in our lives.
One of the enemy's main tools to get into our lives is through unforgiveness. I can remember times when I harbored unforgiveness and offense towards a person. My mind was consumed with it. I would continually think about it and how I would get them back. This was not spiritually healthy. It robbed me of joy and the things of God.
By choosing to forgive, we open the door for God to fully heal us from our past wounds. We are not allowing that situation to live rent-free in our heads. I know that when I choose to forgive, a flood of peace comes over me, and my joy is restored. I believe we need to be so addicted to peace and joy that we will be driven to forgive and not want to hold onto anything hindering us from walking in it.
We Must Focus on Our Future, Not Our Past
Philippians 3:13–14 (NLT) — 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
What matters in our lives is what God has for us. We need to choose to walk in it and not allow situations that occurred in our past to keep us in bondage.
Joyce Meyer is a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She is very open about her father molesting her as a child and teenager. She goes into great detail about it in her book, "Battlefield of the Mind." How she dealt with the past violation and how it affected her thinking. I believe as a result of it, she is who she is today. God is using her to change millions of lives for Jesus Christ.
As we explore the depths of forgiveness, we must also embrace leaving the past behind and looking toward the future. Philippians 3:13-14 encourages us to press on, forgetting what lies behind and reaching for the heavenly prize. Although we remember the past, it should not define us or hinder our progress. We can embrace a future filled with hope, peace, and love by embracing forgiveness.
Does Forgiveness Mean Forgetting All About It
Many will say that if you haven't forgotten the situation, you haven't forgiven them. I believe it is essential to understand that forgiveness does not mean forgetting. We cannot erase the situation that caused the pain and hardship in our lives from our minds. We are not robots.
However, forgiveness enables us to move forward without allowing past experiences to define us. It is a conscious decision not to hold on to the negative emotions associated with the offense.
I just shared an experience that required my pastor to get involved. I chose to forgive that person. When I see them in public, I may remember the past, but it does nothing to me at all. It has no foothold in my life. I have no negative feelings for them. I don't wish them any harm. I have even found myself praying for them. I have talked to them. I don't avoid them. I want the best for their lives.
It is Important to Be Sensitive When Helping Someone Walk in Forgiveness
In discussing forgiveness, we must tread with sensitivity, recognizing that some individuals have experienced unimaginable pain and trauma. I have been fortunate that I have not experienced significant situations that have caused much pain in my life. But many people have. We need to be aware of this.
Be careful in how you encourage them to seek forgiveness. Don't use phrases like, "Just get over it." Now, are there some that need to get over it? Yes, but then real situations need to be dealt with gently.
It is essential to approach each person's journey with understanding, compassion, and empathy. Encouraging them to seek God's guidance and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts can pave the way for true healing.
Tying Everything Together
The path to forgiveness can be difficult at times, but in the long run, it leads to freedom from the enemy's bondage.
God only wants the best for our lives. He knows the doors that will be opened into our lives to the enemy if we permit him to come in. We have to keep those doors closed. That is why God is so adamant about us walking in forgiveness.
As we choose to forgive, we release ourselves from the chains of unforgiveness and allow God's grace to work in our lives. Remember that forgiveness is not a sign of weakness but a testament to our strength and faith in Christ.
May we all find the courage to forgive, be set free, and walk in the abundant life God has in store for us.
Scriptures About Forgiveness
1 John 1:9
Frequently Asked Questions
What does it mean to have a forgiving spirit?
Ephesians 4:32 says, "Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you." This means we, as Christians, should act as God would want us to. Letting go of anger and hurt feelings can be challenging, but it brings us joy and peace.
Forgiveness can be challenging, especially if they hurts us a lot. But the Bible in Matthew 6:14-15 tells us that if we forgive others, God will forgive us too.
Always remember that forgiving people is not weak but a strong act of love. And we pray that God gives us all the power to forgive others.
When we choose to live this way, that would be considered having a "Forgiving Spirit."
Can you forgive someone who doesn't ask for it?
The answer is evident in the Bible. In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus says, "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins."
This means that forgiveness does not depend on whether the person asks for it. As followers of Christ, we are called to imitate His example of forgiveness and show mercy to others, even when they don't seek it.
We can extend forgiveness unconditionally through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, just as God has forgiven us. So let us not withhold forgiveness, but rather let love and grace flow from our hearts towards those who have wronged us.
Is letting go the same thing as forgiveness?
Many people wonder about this, and the Bible gives some valuable answers.
In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus says that if we forgive people, our heavenly Father will forgive us too. This means that to forgive is to let go of any hurt or anger we feel towards others. Letting go is a big part of forgiveness because it allows us to stop being upset and feel the calmness of being kind to others.
But it's important to remember that just letting go doesn't always mean we've forgiven. Letting go often means not letting bad feelings or situations affect us. But forgiving is more than that. In Colossians 3:13, the Bible tells us to be patient with each other and forgive each other, just like the Lord forgave us. So, forgiving means being merciful, understanding, and loving to those who have upset us.
So, although letting go can help us forgive, real forgiveness means consciously deciding to be kind and makeup with others. We should ask the Holy Spirit to guide us as we try to forgive and strive to follow the example of our caring Savior.
Shawn Paul is an author and missionary who has been living and working in Central America for the past 10 years. He is passionate about living for Jesus Christ and inspiring others to do the same, which is the focus of his blog, where he shares his expertise in Christianity.
In addition to his missionary work, Shawn enjoys reading books, studying God's Word, growing plants and flowers, feeding birds, and keeping up with the latest technology.
As a writer, Shawn's unique perspective and passion for his faith shine through in his work. Shawn's goal for the future is to impact people around the world for Jesus through his writing and missionary work.