I recently had a fall out with fellow Christians. And let me tell you, it was not pretty. I was angry, I was hurt, I was discouraged. It was over now, but because of that experience, I learned a thing or two about forgiveness.
1. UNFORGIVENESS IS NOT LIKE WINE. IT DOESN’T GET BETTER WITH AGE. SO DON’T WAIT BEFORE DOING IT.
Bitterness is the one thing that comes with unforgiveness. If you don’t forgive that person immediately, you let your bitterness linger. I have been bitter with people and I never liked that feeling. My heart feels heavy and I began to nitpick that person. I get irritated whenever I see him. My heart was distracted from God. If you let bitterness harbor in your heart, it gets worse. So worse that you won’t be able to hear what the Holy Spirit is telling you. It ruins your fellowship with God. Don’t let it.
2. UNFORGIVENESS IS NOT LIKE A FIRE CONTAINED INSIDE A JAR. IT IS WILDFIRE. IT SPREADS AND YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO CONTROL IT.
You can never keep your unforgiveness to yourself. Beside bitterness and heavy burden, self-pity is another thing that comes with not forgiving. And one thing about self-pitying is that it feels good. And it feels better to let it out to another person, and another one, and another one. We develop a “victim mentality” and we start to seek people to be on our side.
Our unforgiveness can spread to relationships. The matter is not between you and the other person anymore but it involves other people. You not only cause clashes but you also cause other people to fall into sin.
3. FORGIVENESS IS NOT BASED ON FEELINGS. IT IS A CHOICE.
Before we forgive, we wait for the other person to ask for forgiveness. We wait for our hearts to feel better. We wait until “we are ready.” But that is not true forgiveness. Forgiveness is a choice. We choose to do it even when it is hard.
If we based our forgiveness on feelings, we only forgive it at that time. I remember having quarrels with my sisters. I forgive them but when another incident happens again, I bring back all the things they did before because I only forgave them in the past based on my feelings. But true forgiveness is letting go of the past like God have done. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” [Isaiah 43:25] “then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” [Hebrews 10:17] Forgiveness is deliberately choosing to let go of the things that hurt you and to go out of your way to love the person, just like how love is a choice. I’m not saying that it will be easy. It will be extremely difficult. You may have to choose to forgive moment by moment but eventually it will get better.
So my loves, if you are hurt by someone and you can’t seem to forgive, look at Jesus’s example. Peter asked Him how many times we should forgive someone who has wronged us. “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” [Matthew 18:22] Obey Jesus and lift up all your burdens to Him. Choose to obey. Choose to love. Choose to forgive.
“You have not been sprinkled with forgiveness. You have not been splattered with grace. You have not been dusted with kindness. You have been immersed in it. You are a minnow in an ocean of his mercy.”