Most of us know that the Bible teaches that we have to forgive the people who let us down and hurt us but have you ever wondered why? Why would a so called “good” and “loving” God want us to forgive the people who have fallen short or who have brutalized or victimized us? Why should we forgive the people we're lucky to have survived? There are several reasons, and today we are going to break down three of them. (Three is my personal favorite.)
To set you free
Unforgiveness is a dark and lonely prison in which you hold the key. It leads us to the place where we are deceived by our pain and the lies that we tell ourselves. We begin to believe that the pain, lies, and wounds we're nursing are actually protecting us. Instead of seeing what we are doing to ourselves, we believe someone else is keeping us locked up and bogged down. In reality, you are your captor.
We spend so much time and energy maintaining our unforgiveness when the people that hurt us have usually moved on with their lives and don't even give us much thought. 1 Corinthians 7:23 says, “You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men.” Holding on to unforgiveness makes you a slave to the person who hurt you.
Hear me when I say this: God doesn't tell you to forgive to minimize your pain and the pains to which you have been subjected. He tells you to forgive because He wants you free. You still have life in front of you. Jesus came that you would receive it and live it to the fullest.
He wants you free. He also wants you healed. You were never meant to resign to a life of maintaining and carrying the heavy burdens of heart ache, abandonment or fear.
It is His heart to see you healed. He wants to walk through the pain with you. He is trying to overturn the lies and repair places that have we have left wounded for far too long, but He needs your participation. He even wants to get into the places that are hurt so badly that we've buried them so deep we don't even know they're still there festering and affecting our overall life and perspective.
Aren’t you tired? Tired of the anger and rage and bitterness? Don't you want more? More peace, joy, and hope for your future? Don't you want stronger relationships that have deeper intimacy and where you can be known, loved and accepted? You have to get free from that unforgiveness and the pain that you've endured. A significant step towards freedom is partnering with the Holy Spirit to forgive the people who have fallen short, let you down or hurt you.
To redeem your pain and restore your loss
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-14 ESV
Redemption means to be released by payment of ransom. Jesus paid the ultimate price to purchase our redemption. Another reason God tells you to forgive is to redeem your pain. He made way for your freedom from it, but it requires your participation in the form of forgiving.
Remember, forgiveness doesn’t mean that you are no longer angry or that what happened isn’t a big deal. W.M. Paul Young says in his book, The Shack, that forgiveness is just releasing the person's neck from your hand.
My marriage hit a rough patch a little over a year ago where it was a challenge just to fight to want to stay married. We had hurt each other in different controlling ways. We were going down fast. The Holy Spirit continued to lead, and we got to the place where we could see that we had both partnered with fear and were harboring unforgiveness towards the other.
In our unforgiveness, we had been unable to see the other clearly through eyes of compassion. Instead, we had been selfish only able to see how the other was affecting ourselves.
Choosing to lay down our right to retaliation allowed us to see the other’s needs and instead serve and help the other through what was raging in them and our marriage turned around!
Maybe someone hurt you something awful. Forgiveness is still for you. I have had to forgive parents, siblings, abusers, and abandoners so I know it is not always easy. Sometimes it is a minute by minute choice, but it is a choice worth making because the Lord wants to step into that situation and work on your behalf. He seeks to redeem that pain and see you released from its effects. He wants to restore what you’ve lost. If you can learn to trust Him, you’ll see forgiveness is worth the effort.
Because He Forgave
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15 ESV
He’s not asking you to do something that He was not willing to do. He knows that forgiveness is hard for us and He knows what it is like to choose to forgive. He’s creator of the universe. He made man in His image to share in relationship and community with Him, and we choose our way. We rebelled against the God who only ever wanted relationship and connection with us. He decided to forgive us anyway, even though that forgiveness cost Him everything.
He came, and He walked among the men He created in His image, and we didn't even receive Him. We rejected Him. He healed and loved everywhere He went, and we killed Him. Nailed Him to a cross and He hung there completely abandoned and alone by His friends. He hung there as the people He came to save mocked Him, spit on Him and gambled for His things. He stayed there between two common thieves when He had all of the armies of heaven at His disposal, and He chose to forgive us! Even before the pain was over! While He still hung He asked the Father to forgive us because He knew we were oblivious to what we were doing. The sinless one became sin for us to be free. Righteous. Saved. Loved.
Forgiveness is hard, but it is worth it. God tells you to forgive knowing full and well what that means and how challenging it can be. He who has forgiven the unforgivable in you, calls you forgive because He knows the freedom, redemption, and restoration that will eclipse your pain and loss when we partner with Him.
Know today that you are so loved. God loves you. What hurts you hurts Him. He cares about your pain. The Bible says He collects every tear and records every sorrow. (Psalm 56:8) They matter to Him. Nevertheless, He wants you completely free and redeemed, and that happens by forgiving, letting go and choosing to live again. I challenge you today to search your heart and choose forgiveness.
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