One Ministry, One Church, One Message Worldwide
At one time or another in our lives, we’ve been hurt by someone else. In many cases, the hurt doesn’t come from a stranger, but from a close friend or family member. Forgiving people for what they said or did not only strengthens family relationships and preserves friendships, but it also brings emotional and spiritual healing to the forgiver. It’s not easy putting aside all the anger and bitterness to move forward, but the Bible gives us specific instructions on how to do so.
Perhaps it’s an ongoing feud between adult siblings, or a sharp disagreement with a parent that escalated. Regardless of the circumstances, it’s important to remember the One Who first set the example of true forgiveness. Jesus’ earthly ministry focused on love, compassion, and forgiveness, even when He was slowly dying on the cross. “Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’ And they divided His garments and cast lots” (Luke 23:34, NKJV).
The world has more than enough pain and resentment. If we’re not careful, when someone says or does something hurtful to us, we can latch onto that hurt and pain, and hang on tight to it. When we harbor grudges and keep dredging them up in our mind of what the other person “did” to us—even if it was unintentional—those grudges will fester, and poison us from the inside. We must make a conscious decision to forgive. “Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:13, NKJV).
Refusing to forgive binds us up spiritually, and resentment against another person actually imprisons us in our own negative emotions. We can feel it eating away at us on the inside. Even if the other person continues to hurt us, we are to continue forgiving those transgressions the same way Jesus continues to forgive us of our sins. “Then Peter came to Him and asked, ‘Lord, how many times will my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered him, ‘I say to you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven’” (Matthew 18:21, 22, AMP).
It’s not God’s will for us to live with hurt feelings on the inside because we haven’t truly learned how to forgive from the heart. It’s not in our physical nature to just “let it go,” but we’re actually spiritual beings housed temporarily in a physical body. When we focus on the things of the spirit, which are eternal, we can begin to see the reality of God’s love and unconditional forgiveness for us. “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31, 32).
We’re God’s children, and from a parental perspective, it’s painful for a father to see his children divided against each other and harboring resentment and anger. God wants only the best for us, and that includes a joyful life free from the emotional pain of unforgiveness. We can’t escape it on our own, only with His help and guidance. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV). Letting go of the emotional baggage holding us down allows our spirit to soar.