I have often wondered with sadness, why some people remain stuck in life. Why some people seem to be black holes of pain and regret. Constantly sucking others into their little worlds of negativity, in some cases. Exuding coldness, or apathy in other cases. Why do some end up violent criminals? Why is it that some families are so broken and it just gets worse, love never grows and joy and peace are totally foreign? It all comes down to unforgiveness in our hearts.
God has designed this marvelous Creation we call the Universe on principles.
Principles are forces at work all the time whether you are aware of them or not. The Earth orbits the Sun. The moon controls the tides. Inertia. Reaping and Sowing. Seasons. Cause and effect.
This alone is a powerful concept to understand because if you understand that life works based on principles, you can understand that they can either be leveraged to your benefit or ignored to your detriment. Because of gravity you can fly through the sky, or fall to your death. A life of freedom and victory rests in your understanding and application of the principles God has chosen for this thing called Life to run on.
In His Mercy, He has given us the two great sources of Truth to discern and study His Principles; Nature and Scripture. He has formed and shaped Principles that are in operation in every area of our life: our finances, our emotions, our minds, our bodies, and most importantly our relationship with God and others.
Through much seeking of wisdom, I was given insight in to one such Life Principle that if ignored has the potential to keep a life stuck in the same muck and mire for decades, “gnarled in the bramble thicket,” as Andy Andrews says.
That principle is the Principle of Forgiveness.
In Colossians 3:13 NLT, the apostle Paul writes, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as The Lord forgave you.”
Conflict, offense, being wronged, abused, betrayed, disrespected, slighted, and taken for granted is simply a fact of life this side of The Fall. It will happen. Often by those we love the very most. If you are a follower of Jesus, forgiveness is not a choice. It is a requirement. For those of us who know how much we have been forgiven by Jesus’ shed blood on the cross, we are called to extend to others what has been given to us. It is in this sharing of our reconciliation with God through Christ, that reconciliation spills out in to our broken world.
If grudges and resentment harbor then relationships will be burdened and unhealthy.
They cannot flourish in such an environment. The ironic thing is that anger toward a past offense only hurts the offended! I assure you, the offender seldom gives thought to the slight given or its consequences! Such is selfish nature. Holding a grudge is like a festering wound. Infection can grow until it can be life threatening. And truly, a life lived in unforgiveness is not life but merely an existence.
Remember! If you are in Christ you have NO right to withhold forgiveness. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NLT
Who is it that you have a strained relationship with, or harbor unforgiveness toward?
Is it hard for you to love someone in particular? Who has hurt you? Perhaps even something darker, like abuse? Take a deeper look. Sometimes it isn’t so drastic. Sometimes it hides in nooks and crannies of our hearts. Why aren’t you close with that family member? Why did that friendship fade?
Forgiveness is not forgetting. It is not sweeping under the rug. Forgiveness says, “It was wrong. It hurt more than you know. But because God forgave me, I choose to forgive you. I release it. It has no more power over me. I am free of it.” Forgiveness is to choose freedom. The feelings follow usually much later. Forgiveness is only the beginning of healing. It is a process, a commitment and a life to live.
What if that person died today? And you were left holding the grudge, never having reconciled with one you loved. Is that something you want to live with? Perhaps today you will reach out with them and have a hard conversation. Or maybe you will simply offer forgiveness in the quiet of your heart. Maybe today you will forgive yourself. It is for freedom Christ sets us free. Be free!