For he has delivered us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. Colossians 1:13 & 14.
Is forgiveness really that important? Let's be honest. We all live in a messy world where we have all been wronged in one way or another. Most of the time we have no control over this. It will happen, we will get hurt. It is our response that really matters. How we respond is something we can control. Anger, frustration, grief are all natural responses to being hurt, but after a short time we must take those feelings and thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. In other words, apply God's love and perspective.
Have you ever been walking somewhere, minding your own business, feeling pretty calm, and then, all of a sudden you see that person! Your heart stops. Maybe you feel angry, maybe scared. Maybe you panic. Maybe you want to hide. You try your best to avoid them. Maybe you even leave the store without buying what you came for. Or maybe you march up to them and can't help yourself. You yell. Or worse.
This is a huge red flag that you have unresolved issues with this person. Anger, bitterness, resentment, hatred. Maybe you even wish they were dead. Or that they would suffer somehow. All of these negative emotions are prisons! They are tormentors! They do not make you powerful. They make you out of control. They control you, not the other way around.
Forgiveness is Freedom! Forgiveness doesn't let them off the hook, it lets YOU off the hook. I once heard someone say that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.
What is Forgiveness? True heart forgiveness is when you can honestly say "I forgive you" and release all the pain attached to that person and/or event. It doesn't mean that you forget that the event happened. It just means that when you think about this person or event, there is no more pain tied to it. You don’t hold it against them any more. Easier said than done, right? Yes, that is why we all need God's help and perspective in every detail of our lives.
Forgiveness will bring peace and freedom from pain and torment. And as a result your body will follow. It is very common, and we expect it, that your body will be instantly healed or begin to recover from whatever pain or sickness the unforgiveness caused. The emotional turmoil and stress from the unforgiveness has a physical negative response in your body. Science is actually proving this. What you think matters. What you believe matters! In deliverance ministry we call this the “spiritual root” to a sickness.
So how do you forgive? It is not always easy. Sometimes it is a process. It requires us to trust God with our hearts.
You must first know that GOD LOVES YOU! Let God love you. Know that you are valuable and worth the sacrifice Jesus paid with his life. You are made in God’s image. That means He made you to look like HIM! You are not just the physical product of your parents. You originated in God. You have a spirit. God made your spirit and breathed his breath of life into you. You have the spirit of God in you!
God’s greatest creation is mankind. The only creation made in his image. In the beginning Jesus, the Word, was with God and is God. And when he came to earth as a man God named him Jesus, which means saviour of mankind. God named his Son/himself “saviour of mankind”! Of all the names he could have called himself! He calls himself saviour of man! God is all about saving us, delivering us. FORGIVING us! It is in God’s heart, God’s identity to forgive!
(In fact I believe he has always forgiven us. There was no time when we were not forgiven in God’s heart. The Bible says that Jesus was slain from the foundations of the world, the beginning. But he had to uphold his side of the Mosaic covenant. That is another topic.)
If we are made in his image and God forgives then we are also made to forgive. Don’t believe the lie that it is NOT in our human nature to forgive. It is! Our ORIGINAL design is to be like God, in his image. Receive that! Forgiveness can become second nature. The more we realize our true identity in Christ, the more we live our true identity. Christ likeness. (Christ means the anointed messiah). God’s image. And God is Love. This is what God sees when he looks at us, his image. He sees us as his perfect child even though he also sees our failures. Love covers a multitude of sins. And Jesus has covered it all with his blood.
Forgiveness requires love. Love makes it easier that's for sure. Love enables us to forgive. For Christ showed his great love for us that while we were still sinning, Christ died for us. We must be willing to let God’s love fill us so fully that it overflows and we begin to love the unlovable.
Forgiveness is to put the person who wronged us in Gods hands and let them go. It requires us to be willing to see them differently and to see the situation differently. We need to be willing to see them the way God sees them.
It doesn’t mean we have to be best friends with this person, actually just the opposite. Now you can let them go. It doesn't mean that you need to trust them or put yourself into a situation where they can hurt you again.
It just means that you let the past pain go and remove them from the throne that you have put them on in your life. You have given them a place of power over you when you hold onto them and what they did. When it torments you day in and day out or is always lurking in the back of your mind then they are taking up too much time and too much of your peace.
Forgiveness is possible weather you make amends with the person or not. There will probably be many times in your life when the person who wronged you will not be sorry, will not apologize, and will not even admit to doing anything wrong. You can still forgive them and set yourself free.
God is about justice but he is also not about justice. He also loves mercy. Sometimes God is both. He is God, he can do that.
Was it justice when Jesus suffered and died for us? No. Sometimes the innocent will pay for the guilty. Forgiveness it is not about justice. They can’t pay you back!!! They never will. You have to let that go. You have to embrace your freedom instead.
Stop trying to be God. Stop thinking that you need to be the Judge. If you really saw this person the way God does, as your lost hurting child. Maybe you can begin to have mercy on them. Maybe this person was rejected, hurt, and tormented. They either have no idea that they hurt you or, they hurt you because of their own pain and suffering. Maybe they are living in their own personal hell. Or maybe not, maybe they appear happy and carefree. It doesn't matter. You have to trust God will take care of them.
Jesus on the cross said Father forgive them because they do not know what they are doing. They purposefully tortured and killed Jesus yet he said they really didn’t know what they were doing. Many of them thought they were actually serving God! Getting rid of a blaspheming heretic.
If Jesus can forgive them, if he can forgive us, then we can forgive as well.
I know it seems like justice for us to want evil people to be punished. We want to carry out that justice, don’t we? But that is not our job. When it comes to our own hearts we must forgive and release them to God so that we can be free.
Yes, there are laws here on earth that must be followed or there are consequences. And it is good to have justice here. It is good to see people who are hurting others, stopped. And put them away in a place where they can’t hurt others again. Maybe even a place where God can change them and they can become good. This justice is good and worth fighting for. It is good to have honest judges, lawyers, laws and order. Law and order and an assurance of justice are a big part of what brings peace and security to countries and society.
But this different than our own hearts. We are responsible to go to God with our own hearts and allow him to give us the right perspective. Whether a man goes free or is put in prison, life in prison or death penalty, repentant or not, we still have the question of whether or not we will personally forgive them and set our own hearts free.
I am always reminded of the story of Jonah when I think about wanting my enemies to suffer. Jonah wanted God’s enemies to suffer too.
Jonah was a prophet of God. You can find his story in the Old Testament book of Jonah. Jonah would get a word from the Lord for others. Typically it was a word of correction or warning. This was the case for Nineveh. Nineveh was an evil city with many evil people doing evil things.
One day God told Jonah that he was to go to Nineveh and warn them that if they do not repent of their evil ways that God would destroy them. Jonah didn’t want Nineveh to repent because he knew that if they did, God would have mercy and not destroy them. And Jonah wanted God to destroy them. He judged in his heart that they were evil and did not deserve to be forgiven.
So Jonah ran from God. Yes, you may have heard this part of the story. He is thrown into the sea and swallowed by a large fish. He was in the fish for three days and three nights until he finally gave in and told God, “OK, I’ll go to Nineveh”.
Many believe that Jonah actually died in the fish because of what he said in his prayer. In Jonah 2:2 he says, “Out of the belly of Sheol I cried…” And 2:6 he says “I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God.”
It is interesting how God made or forced Jonah to obey him. Basically obey or die. He must have really cared about the people of Nineveh. And also it revealed Jonah’s heart and attitude toward people he judged as sinners or unworthy of forgiveness.
So Jonah went to Nineveh and preached repentance. And the people repented! Chapter 3, verse 5 says that they believed God and proclaimed a fast, put on sackcloth and sat in ashes to show their repentance. From the King to the least of them, they all did it.
And just as Jonah had feared, God showed mercy and did not destroy them. Jonah 3:10 says “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented for the disaster that he had said he would bring upon them, and he did not do it.”
Chapter 4 says that this made Jonah very angry. He prays to God and says Isn’t this exactly what I said would happen! This is why I fled and did not want to come here. “I know that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, One who relents from doing harm.” (NKJV)
He was so angry he told God to kill him! He would rather die than see these people have mercy!
So Jonah went out of the city and sat to watch what would happen. And God caused a plant to grow to shade him. But the next day a worm had destroyed the plan and his shade. Jonah was so mad! So verse 9 God says “is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” and Jonah says “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!”
V.10 But the Lord said “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. V.11 “And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left, and much livestock?”
Here Jonah is this mighty (especially in his own eyes) prophet of God, calling others to repent of their sin, and submit to God and he is more hard hearted then the Ninevites.
Jonah was a miserable person, tormented, wanting to die. Why wasn’t he happy for all those people? Let's not be hard hearted. Let us be like God, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness. One who relents from doing harm, even in our thoughts.
Let’s let God be God. He is able to judge others. He is working on them. We don’t have to.
Matthew 18:21-34(NKJV) Then Peter came to Him and said “Lord how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
Jesus said to him, ”I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. At this the servant fell on his knees before him. “Be patient with me,” he begged, “and I will pay back everything.” The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. “Pay back what you owe me!” he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, “Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.” But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.
When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. “You wicked servant,” he said, “I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servants just as I had on you?” In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. Mathew 18:23-34
You have been forgiven. Now how will you respond to others who have wronged you? Even if they have wronged you over and over, God wants you to continue to forgive them in your heart.
This does not mean to be a doormat, to let them walk all over you and continue to hurt you. You must stand up for yourself. You must remove yourself from an abusive relationship or situation. Even if you are married to them. But this does mean that you can forgive again. Not for their sake but for yours.
Will you say these declarations out loud? Say them every day if you have to. Put people’s names in and make it specific. Repetition is not meant to convince God but to convince you! Do you believe what you are saying? Sometimes you have to say it over and over until is really sinks into your heart and your soul. Think about these statements and add to them anything you feel that Lord wants you to say. Make it personal.
I repent for all the unforgiveness I have harbored in my heart and mind.
I forgive everyone I have ever known who has hurt me or has done things they shouldn’t have done. And for all the things they should have done and didn’t do.
I forgive my dad, mom, sister, brother, friend, ______.
I forgive ______ for _______.
I forgive myself for all the things I did and shouldn’t have done, and for all the things I should have done and didn’t do.
I forgive myself for ________.
I forgive you God, for anything that I think you did, that I think you shouldn’t have done, and anything that you didn't do that I think you should have. You are good and right and I trust you.
I forgive you for________. God show me your perspective on this.
Now I let all the unforgiveness go. I has to leave me now in Jesus name.
I also release all the negative emotions tied to this unforgiveness: anger, rage, hatred, bitterness, strife, jalousie, envy, resentment, fear, pain, suffering, torment, record player of events, record player of wrongs, rejection, self rejection, self bitterness, self hatred, punishment, destruction, the destroyer of relationships, destroyer of self, and any other negative emotions you are feeling toward anyone, yourself, or God.
I receive God’s forgiveness, mercy and grace.
I forgive myself.
I release forgiveness, mercy and grace to everyone.
I declare myself free in Christ. Healed of every wound and pain.
Thank you Lord for your deliverance and healing.