"To Forgive or not to Forgive". Forgiveness Series Part 1
Updated: Apr 7, 2020
A woman once said to me: "The last thing I wanted to do was the very thing I needed to do."
Her statement was referring to the way in which she finally let go of the tremendous anger she was feeling and forgave her spouse. Hearing her story, she had every reason to be angry, she had been deeply hurt. She just could not let go of that hurt.
It became a part of her. They separated. She stayed mad, always. She said she even made the excuse over and over, "I'm waiting on God" and hid behind that statement for years.
Friends, if any of you are harboring unforgiveness in your heart, you are not "waiting on God". In fact, God calls us to forgive. He will not string you along and make you wait to forgive someone. He calls us to forgive immediately and release that anger and hurt to Him. One cannot take a step of faith by standing still.
Forgiveness can be so hard. Especially when our hearts get hardened. Through my conversation with my friend, I realized that the misconceptions she had are the ones that many people have, so lets set the record straight:
1. Forgiveness is not saying that nothing bad happened. It is not denial.
2. Forgiveness is not saying that the injured party felt no pain. In all likelihood, the injured person felt great pain and may still be in pain.
3. Forgiveness is not saying that there should be no negative consequences for the offending party. Rather, it is trusting God to bring justice and deal with the person in the way He deems best.
Forgiveness is very simply "letting go." It is refusing to hold the person in the prison of your own heart for another second. Forgiveness is releasing everything related to what the offender did and leaving his or her punishment up to God.
LET THE HOSTAGE GO!
Let's look at it this way. In today's world, we are all painfully aware of what it means for someone to be taken hostage. When we refuse to forgive others--or ourselves--it's as if we we're holding that person, or ourselves, hostage. Let me explain.
When someone is taken hostage, the abductors usually want something. It may be money, the release of prisoners, weapons, or any number of things. In essence, the message being sent is: Give us what we want, and we will give you back what we've taken. There is always some condition--some sort of ransom to be paid.
When you or I refuse to forgive someone who has wronged or hurt us, we are engaging in similar behavior. Until the person we are angry with meets our demands, we withhold love, acceptance, respect, service, kindness, patience, or whatever the person values. The message sent is: Until you repay me for the wrong you've done, you won't receive anything good from me.
If you release that hardness in your heart and truly forgive, you will cancel all claims of compensation for the emotional wounds inflicted upon you.
DROP ALL CLAIMS
Forgiveness is the giving up of resentment, rage, and anger---including one's right to get even.
Saying "I forgive you" to someone and truly meaning it are two very different things. If you sincerely and completely forgive another person, you give up any "right" you may think you have to get even. If fact, one way to know that you truly have forgiven someone is when you no longer have any desire to seek revenge or payback for what the person did.
Unforgiveness is the refusal to give up the anger and vengeance. It is rooted in the idea that "somebody has to pay." What do you think the proper payment or compensation would be for the pain you have endured? If any form of adequate retribution comes to mind, you are harboring unforgiveness.
DROP YOUR "RIGHT" TO UNFORGIVENESS
If you are one of the ones hiding behind the words, "I'm waiting on God" know this.
As I have read through the Bible, I have not found a single book, chapter, or verse that justified holding unforgiveness toward a person.
No matter how badly one hurts, how many tears one has cried, or how desperate a person is for Him to resolve a situation for our good, God gives us a vital role to play in His healing and restoring process: We must forgive.