The Discipline of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is at the very core of Christianity. In fact, forgiveness is so central to the Christian faith, the argument could successfully be made that without forgiveness, Christianity as we know it would not exist. The central message of Christianity is that God loves mankind and has forgiven their sins because of the sacrifice of His Son Jesus (Matt. 26:28; 1 John 2:12). Forgiveness cannot be separated from Christianity any more than a man can be separated from air and still survive.

The Bible is filled with examples of forgiveness. There are many sections of the Old Testament devoted to instructions on how Israel was to offer sacrifices for the forgiveness of their sins. There are also numerous records of God’s prophets reproving His people for their sins and pleading with them to repent and seek God’s forgiveness. In the New Testament, Jesus often taught his followers about the need to extend forgiveness to others, as well as to seek forgiveness for themselves. When asked by his disciples how to pray, Jesus’ prayer included five references to forgiveness, and then he followed it with more instruction on forgiveness.

Matthew 6:9-15
(9) “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
(10) your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
(11) Give us today our daily bread.
(12) Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
(13) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
(14) For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
(15) But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Many times Jesus ministered to the hearts of people by extending forgiveness to them for their sins. When ministering healing to a paralytic, the teachers of the law criticized Jesus because he told him, “…your sins are forgiven” (Matt. 9:2-5, Mark 2: 5-9, Luke 5:20-23). While at the home of Simon the Pharisee, Jesus spoke tenderly and comfortingly to the woman who had just washed his feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair, saying, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48). Forgiveness of sins is a central theme to Jesus’ message to his followers.

The Apostle Peter began to understand the importance of forgiveness from Jesus’ example and teachings. He approached Jesus and questioned how often he should forgive a brother. Jesus, in essence, told him that we are to forgive as often as it is needed (Matt. 18:22). The Apostle Paul too, in many of his letters to the believers, emphasized the message of forgiveness, even setting the standard that we are to forgive in the same way that the Lord has forgiven us (Col. 3:13). The admonition to Christians to “forgive each other” is mentioned the book of Colossians and Ephesians, and it can be reasonably argued that it would be very difficult to do many of the other “One Another’s” listed in the epistles if we are not forgiving one another. How “devoted to one another,” “bearing with one another,” or “loving one another” are we really being if we are not “forgiving one another?”

Forgiveness is a Discipline we Must Master
Clearly, forgiveness is an essential discipline that every follower of Christ must master. No one likes to be wrongly accused, mistreated, abused, lied to, or hurt, but these things are a fact of life, and eventually they happen to each of us. Jesus never harmed another person, but loved everyone and extended nothing but kindness and goodness wherever he went, and yet even he was treated despicably. He was tortured unmercifully and executed as a common criminal, and in the final moments of his life he called to God, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). What an amazing example he set for us, his followers. If Jesus could forgive his betrayers and abusers, then we certainly can forgive those who hurt or offend us. His example clearly demonstrates that Christians who live without forgiveness are simply not behaving like Christ.

Life is Filled with Offenses
Life includes the pain of being sinned against. It is hard to imagine that anyone could live without experiencing some hurt and offense. Furthermore, who can honestly say that they have never hurt another? Our natural reaction to being wronged is to feel offended. When we are wronged, there is a breach in the relationship, which produces a sense of grief. Often, people are not even aware of the process or their feelings, but nevertheless react with hurt, denial, and anger. When these feelings are not processed in a healthy manner, they will fester into deep resentments and bitterness. Forgiveness is the antidote that stops the infection of resentment that so often festers into the rotten disease of bitterness. Forgiveness interrupts this downward spiral and helps to set us on a path towards mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual wholeness.

Whenever I ask people if they can recall any injustices they have suffered, I get two drastically different responses. Some people have to stop and ponder the question before they can recall any “real wrongs.” They usually can come up with a few, but it is almost as if they have to work at recalling them. Then there are others who with amazing rapidity recount incident after incident in great detail, seemingly as if the event occurred yesterday. The astonishing thing is that in most cases the events they recall actually occurred years, if not decades ago. So what is the big difference between these two groups of people? It is my experience that the first group tend to be forgiving people by habit, and the others unforgiving, also by habit, and it is not that the unforgiving people have suffered worse abuse than those who forgive more easily. We all endure injustice, but some “let it go” and others choose to “hang on to it.” Forgiveness breaks any ties to past offenses, which is why those who have developed the habit of forgiving have greater difficulty accessing memories of offense.

Merely knowing that we should forgive is not as helpful as knowing what forgiveness is and how to go about it. Forgiveness is a learned skill that Christians can practice, and when we do, we will get better at it.

Why do we Need to Forgive Others?
There are many reasons why people need to learn the discipline of how to forgive others. In addition to forgiving others because God tells us to, there are many mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual benefits that forgiveness produces. Medical professionals recognize that there is a very strong link between physical illness and the stress that can occur from resentment and bitterness. Unresolved anger and other negative emotions produce very powerful mind-body interactions that frequently result in illness and disease. In his book, Deadly Emotions, Dr. Don Colbert describes many of the mind, body, and spirit connections that can either heal or destroy us. As he states, “Medical research is showing more and more that there may be a mind-body connection to most diseases and ailments, not just a few.” [1] Forgiveness is God’s prescription for the illness of bitterness.

Forgiveness is Required for Wholeness: Physical Benefits
On the physical level, unforgiveness produces stress in the body, which in turn causes hundreds of physiological effects. These include changes in the skin, perspiration, and the pupils of the eyes dilating or constricting, as well as increased heart rate and respiration, a narrowing of the blood vessels, and the release of powerful hormones such as cortisol (adrenaline), and the list goes on. All of the body’s systems are affected in a variety of ways. When this stress continues over a prolonged period of time, severe damage and illness can occur. There are many studies which indicate that there may be a strong connection between harboring negative emotions and contracting certain autoimmune diseases, cancers, and other life threatening illnesses. One study indicates that 75-90 percent of all visits to primary-care physicians result from stress-related disorders. [2]

Mental Benefits
Mental health professionals also recognize that a person struggling with unforgiveness often appears “stuck,” or fixed at a certain time in their emotional development. When this happens, a person’s maturity is stunted, as if a part of their personality is fixed at a certain incomplete point. Consider the example of the adult who, despite being an accomplished professional in his career, acts very childlike in his relationships with others. Although there can be a number of causes involved, bitterness is certainly one factor that must be considered if healing is to occur. Unforgiveness is often at the core of the problem, and forgiveness is what is necessary for a person’s mental and emotional well-being.

Spiritual Benefits
Lack of forgiveness can also result in spiritual oppression by opening the mind to evil spirits. For a number of years I have been helping individuals through deliverance ministry, [3] and it is my experience that, without exception, those tormented by demonic spirits have unforgiveness present in their hearts. Demonic spirits use unforgiveness as a doorway into people’s lives, and it is absolutely essential that their victims learn to forgive in order to receive spiritual freedom. Disciplining ourselves to practice forgiveness brings a harvest of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual freedom.

Why is it so Hard to Forgive?
Despite knowing the need to forgive someone, many find it a very difficult thing to do. One of the reasons for this is that forgiveness is in some ways contrary to what we feel and believe should be done. When we are wronged, we have an internal desire that things be made “right,” and forgiveness does not seem to accomplish this. In fact, it often feels like by forgiving, we are removing the offender’s need to make things “right,” and that just does not make sense.

Every time a person sins against another, he or she becomes indebted to that person to “make things right.” The debtor (wrongdoer) has a moral, ethical, and spiritual obligation to restore to the person whom he or she has harmed. We all recognize that when someone steals something from you they are obligated to indemnify you. This means they have a legal obligation to make you whole, to restore you to the condition you were prior to the loss. So too, whenever anyone sins against you relationally, such as lying to you or hurting you, that person has a spiritual obligation to “make things right” between the two of you again. There is a literal spiritual debt created by sin, which is why Jesus spoke of debts and debtors in the Lord’s prayer.

Matthew 6:12
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” [4]

Sin always disturbs the spiritual balance, or equilibrium, of God’s creation. Even from a young age, people seem to inherently know when they have been wronged. One day when I was observing some toddlers, I saw one of them take a toy away from another one, which is a pretty common occurrence whenever kids gather. The one who lost the toy began to cry like a banshee, all the while speaking gibberish and pointing at the other little offender. It was as if he was trying to say, “That is just not right.” Children frequently react immediately when wronged, and it is only as we grow older that we learn to mask or deny our feelings. Nevertheless, sin creates a debt, and we instinctively know it.

Stop Bitter Roots from Growing
There is nothing wrong with feeling resentment when we are wronged or mistreated. Resentment, displeasure, and even anger at being treated poorly often spurs us into action to deal with the problem, and it can help us communicate to others what is and is not acceptable by establishing healthy boundaries. But if resentment is not handled properly, it can develop into bitterness. God never meant for our anger to linger, which is why He tells us in Ephesians 4:26 not to let the sun go down while we are still angry. The feelings of hurt, sadness, and anger that are typically present when offenses occur must be handled properly, or they will fester into an emotional boil of bitterness. Bitterness is also at the root of much evil behavior.

Ephesians 4:31
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

When we do not properly deal with bitterness it will lead to many different sinful behaviors. In the immediate context of the above verse, God tells us that the remedy is forgiveness, and the standard with which we are to forgive is “just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:32
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Bitterness is a state of unresolved anger and often manifests itself as an intense desire for revenge, or as God says, “malice,” which is a desire to do evil by injuring and harming another. Bitterness, a malignant cancer of the heart, is always sin, and God says that it defiles us, infecting our entire being.

Hebrews 12:15
See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

In the Old Testament, if something was defiled, it was considered “unclean” and had to be separated from use in the Temple and worship services. Defilement is a state of impurity. We understand that in Christ we are holy because of his atoning sacrifice, and yet God still strongly admonishes us that we must be careful not to miss His grace by allowing a bitter root to grow up within us. We have a responsibility to live in accordance with the spiritual nature that is in us.

1 Peter 1:15 and 16
(15) But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;
(16) for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Living with bitterness and unforgiveness defiles us just like a dead body defiled a person in the Old Testament. Few people would ever want to eat from a refrigerator that is full of rotten and stinking food. And yet people resist cleansing themselves of bitterness and unforgiveness, even though it poisons their whole being, putrefying their hearts, and causing spiritual stink. We must discipline ourselves to remove the uncleanness from our hearts by practicing forgiveness. This is one reason why God tells us to guard our hearts.

Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

There is nothing benign about holding on to past hurts and offenses through grudges, resentments, unresolved anger, bitterness, or revenge. Forgiveness severs the tether that binds us to any unholiness or defilement and allows us to move forward. Unforgiveness is a malignancy that none of us can afford to have. If we want to live a radiant Christian life, then we have to learn the discipline of forgiveness. Forgiveness is releasing our right to collect the debt from the offender. Forgiveness allows us to participate in the divine nature of God, in the sense that just as God has forgiven us for our sins against Him, we too can forgive those who trespass against us. Forgiveness frees us from defilement and allows us to participate in holiness.

What is Forgiveness?
Far too often people have difficulties forgiving others because of their misunderstanding about what forgiveness is, and conversely, what it is not. First and foremost, we must recognize that forgiveness is a decision; it is a choice we can make. When we forgive others, we have decided to release our right to collect on the debt they owe us. The cancelling of the debt is what frees us from the cords that have tethered us to the past offense. Jesus often used the symbolism of cancelling a debt when teaching about forgiveness of sins, because forgiveness involves the releasing of a debt (Matt. 6:12 and 18:25-32, Luke 7:42-43 and 16:5). Whenever we are sinned against, we have a right to be repaid, to be restored whole again, and when we forgive another, we make the choice to let go of that right.

When we forgive someone, we are dismissing our right to collect on the debt, but we are not dismissing their moral or spiritual responsibility to make things right. Many times, for true justice to occur, it must come from God, the true righteous Judge, whereas we may be wrongly motivated or unfair in the punishment we prescribe. It helps us to forgive when we turn our right to collect the debt over to God, letting Him sort everything out.

Forgiveness should never be confused with releasing a person from their moral or legal obligations. When we forgive, we are releasing them from our desire for retribution or pay back, but that does not mean they are free from any legal consequences for their actions. We can forgive a perpetrator who has abused a child or raped a woman, but they still have indebtedness to God and to society in general. God demands repentance, and society has a duty to act appropriately in order to protect people from future abuse by this person.

Forgiveness is Not a Feeling
Forgiveness is not a feeling, it is a choice. A choice is something that is completely under our control. No one, not even God, can command us to have a certain feeling. No one can command you to feel happy, or angry, or sad, because emotions are not something that can be commanded. Yet God commands us to forgive, so it must be a choice, something that we can decide to do and thus obey God.

Colossians 3:13
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

God never commands us to feel like forgiving; He simply tells us to do it. I forgive the moment that I choose to release a person, whether I “feel” like it or not. Sadly, people far too frequently fail to forgive others because they are waiting until they “feel” like it. They are confusing feelings and actions. It requires humility and obedience for us to set aside our need for repayment.

When we forgive others their debts, we are choosing freedom for ourselves. Bill Dallas states in his book, Lessons from San Quentin:

“…when you forgive someone, the person offering forgiveness is the one who is released from bondage. When we extend forgiveness to the one who has hurt us, we are to expect nothing in return; the prize is our own freedom.” [5]

The only alternative to forgiveness is unforgiveness, which is actually choosing bondage and slavery. Forgiving is an act of generosity because it is always “for-giving” to another, whereas unforgiveness is always about ourselves; it is “for-taking.” No rational person would ever drink poison intending to hurt someone they were mad at, and yet, this is exactly what we do whenever we choose not to forgive. We hold on to grudges, bitterness, and resentments, thinking it hurts the other person, but in reality we are only hurting ourselves. Unforgiveness is always unsound, unhealthy, diseased, and decayed thinking.

Many times people hold on to unforgiveness because it makes them feel powerful and energized. Unfortunately, they fail to see that it is a negative power, fueled by pride and unsound thinking. Unforgiveness is always self-destructive, as well as harmful to others. People hold on to the thoughts of spite and malice as if it is hurting the offender, but in reality, the offender usually has moved on with life and is unaware or uncaring. Forgiveness always benefits us because it is a choice based on truth and love.

Forgiveness is Not a One-Time Event
Another common misconception people have is that forgiveness is a one-time event. Jesus demonstrated that we are obligated to forgive another no matter how many times he or she “sins” against us.

Matthew 18:21 and 22
(21) Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
(22) Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

You may note, depending upon what version of the Bible you are reading, that there are differences in how many times Jesus indicated we are to forgive. Some versions say “seventy-seven times” and others say, “seventy times seven,” [6] or four hundred and ninety times. It would be highly improbably if not impossible for someone to sin against you that many times in one day. The lesson is that we must forgive as often as the offense comes up for us. Someone may have actually only sinned against me one time, but I may be offended every time I remember the event, and each time I do, I have a new occasion to practice forgiveness. Do not let yourself be tricked into thinking that because you forgave a person once, it is a “done deal.” We must continue to express our forgiveness for another as long as we harbor negative emotions or thoughts towards him. Forgiveness shuts the door on yesterday’s wounds. This is vital to understand, because when my past becomes my present, I am robbed not only of my present, but also of my future!

Forgiveness is Not Forgetting
God commands us to forgive; He does not command us to forget. Some people think that they have not forgiven because they cannot forget. There are some times when the offense is so traumatic that we may never forget it. But despite that, we can always choose to forgive, and when we do, the memory will weaken over time. When we avoid the grief and pain of the offense, we begin to live in denial, which stunts our ability to move on past the event. Our failure to forget can actually aid us if we learn to use it as an impetus to forgive. Forgetting past offenses takes time, but forgiveness can happen in an instant. When we embrace forgiveness, we can eventually turn painful memories into redemptive events. No matter what negative events the world throws at us, God is always working for the good of those who love Him, and even when evil happens to us, we can, with God’s help, find a way to benefit others from what has happened to us.

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

It may seem difficult or even impossible to see how some events that happen to us could ever come to any good. Despite this, consider the example of Nelson Mandela, imprisoned for decades, and yet because of his forgiveness towards his oppressors, was able to bring great change and healing to his country. Bad things happen to people all the time, and when we walk in forgiveness, we allow God to work through us in powerful ways.

If forgiveness involved forgetting, it could set us up for unnecessarily enduring future offenses. There are occasions when a person, knowing that he or she has been forgiven for past wrongs, says, “It is not right for you to bring up the past, because you said you forgave me.” If forgiving were forgetting, it would allow people to take advantage of our forgiveness. I can forgive and still remember the past behavior, because it allows me to see the wrongful patterns and then take the necessary steps to protect myself.

Forgiveness is Not Weak or Passive
Some people have incorrectly equated forgiveness with passivity. There is nothing weak or passive about forgiveness. Forgiving others requires great strength of character. It requires great courage to go against our natural desire for retribution and to let the other “off your hook.” Once when I was struggling with the idea of forgiving a person, I got a mental image of him hanging by the back of his shirt on a hook. As the person struggled and twisted on the hook, I saw a hand pick him up and move him to another hook. I knew immediately that, while I may be taking him off my hook, he was being placed on God’s hook. I instantly sensed a great relief and was able to forgive him.

Many times our desire to see justice done hinders our forgiving someone else. While it is true that he or she may righteously deserve “justice,” we might be wrong in our perception of the offense, and the person may not deserve “justice” as we perceive it. Far too often we humans assign evil motives towards others when those motives may not even exist. By exercising forgiveness, we are humbling ourselves by setting aside our own desires. We can release the person, knowing that it is ultimately God’s responsibility to make sure that justice is done. After all, it is only God who really sees the whole picture.

Forgiving others does not mean that we must sit back and allow them to walk over us and our rights. We all need to establish healthy boundaries and affirm our personal liberties. If we demand “justice” in the flesh, for example, by testifying in court against the person and they are fined or imprisoned, that does not mean that we have forgiven them. Forgiveness is something that we do in our hearts spiritually and mentally and does not mean that offenders are released from the consequences of their offenses. Some people fail to forgive because they fear that by doing so, they are opening themselves up to future abuse. We can forgive a person and still make it very clear that we will not tolerate any wrongful behavior from them in the future.

Forgiveness is Not Trust
We must not confuse forgiveness with trust. Occasionally someone might say that they do not want to forgive someone because they “do not trust him.” Trust is a component of godly relationships and must be earned, but forgiveness is not something that is earned. Forgiveness requires mercy, the withholding of what someone deserves, and grace, unmerited favor. Trust, on the other hand, must be built and generally takes time. Trust most often takes time because it involves learning about a person’s character. Jesus forgave everyone and he asks us to do the same, but he did not trust everyone, nor does he command us to do so.

John 2:24
But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men.

If a person steals from us we can forgive him, but it would not be wise to put him in charge of our bank account. In the same way, if a person abuses a child, we can forgive him, but we would be derelict to involve him in children’s fellowship. We can forgive quickly, but trust grows with time.

Forgiveness is Not Reconciliation
The relationship between forgiveness and reconciliation must be properly understood. We can and should forgive others, but it would be very unwise to reconcile with some people. For example, a woman who has been raped can forgive the person who hurt her, but there is no requirement for her to ever have that person in her life again. Or, some people go through very hurtful divorces, where one of the parties involved acts very ungodly and vengeful. In those cases, the offender can and must be forgiven, but neither party has an obligation to reconcile.

Reconciliation, by definition, must include forgiveness, repentance, and the making of amends for any wrongs done. Frequently people say, “I forgave so-and-so, but I NEVER want them in my life again.” We must be cautious because language like this often masks an unforgiving heart, despite us saying that we have forgiven. Genuine forgiveness would indicate that we would be “willing” to have the other person back in our life, provided that certain conditions were first met.

Understanding the Grief Process
Whenever there is a breach in a relationship, our hearts undergo grief. Psychologists recognize that there are stages that everyone must go through in order to properly grieve, and each of these stages involves different emotions. Confusion can occur because as a person goes through the various emotions and stages of grief, he “feels” like he has not forgiven the other person. We must remember that forgiveness is not an emotion but a choice, so no matter how we feel, we can still be exercising forgiveness.

The first thing that occurs when someone sins against us is pain. We hurt emotionally and we pull back. In the same way that we physically pull a finger back when it is hurt by a flame, so too we pull back emotionally when our heart is hurt. This is typically followed by denial, which involves us saying something like, “I can’t believe they did that.” Denial is an emotional aid because it temporarily stems the pain and bleeding of the heart. Next we enter into some form of anger. Many times the first sign we see that someone is hurt is an outburst of anger, but the fact is that the person experienced hurt, denial, and then anger. When people allow themselves to experience their emotions without masking or stuffing them, they will eventually experience sadness, which is different from hurt. Hurt is the initial pain, while sadness is a deep sorrow. It can take time to move through the depression and melancholy of the loss of the relationship or the pain from being hurt. As we allow ourselves to grieve the loss, we will begin to bargain. Bargaining is when we decide in our minds that we will allow someone back in our lives “IF” they do such and such. And then the last stage is “acceptance,” which we know we have achieved when we feel a neutral feeling in our heart about the matter. We must all remember that we can forgive no matter what stage of grief we are in: hurt, denial, anger, sadness, bargaining, or acceptance.

Forgiveness Must be Real
Forgiveness is not something that we just say in our mind, it must be something we say in our hearts and really mean. When we first try to forgive another, the only thing we may be able to do is to merely mouth the words, “I forgive _____________.” Then as often as the person comes to our mind, we need to repeat it again and again. I have found it helpful to also pray for the person who has hurt me. After all, Jesus told us to bless those who persecute us (Rom. 12:14), and one of the best ways to bless another is to pray that God will bless and protect him.

Also, it is not necessary for us to be with the other person to forgive them. There are times when the person who hurt you is no longer living or available. Or it may be that they are not a safe person to be around. No matter what the situation, we can still forgive. Picture the person with you in your mind and then tell them that you forgive them. Really mean it and tell them that you refuse to hold anything against them anymore, that you are severing the ungodly ties of resentment and bitterness that have bound you together, and that from this point forward you are releasing them. Say it, mean it, and feel it in your gut as you release them. And if you are stuck and cannot forgive, remember how God has forgiven you. Every time the offense comes back to your mind do it again and again. Eventually your heart will shift, and you will feel a sense of peace and acceptance. God tells us to forgive, because it benefits us.

The Hardest Person to Forgive
As long as we are alive, there will always be occasions when we cause offense, as well as times when we are offended and hurt. This means we will never run out of times when we need to be forgiven and to extend forgiveness. Many people will find it necessary to forgive parents, siblings, children, friends, co-workers, fellow church members, neighbors, and others. We must never forget that of all the people listed, we must not forget to forgive ourselves. Unforgiveness harbored against ourselves for our past can cause serious problems. Like me, you may tend to be very hard on yourself for your misdeeds and sin. Recognize that Jesus has paid the price for everyone’s sins, including YOURS. Stop paying interest on a debt you no longer owe by forgiving yourself. Learn to forgive yourself and release the debt.

Conclusion
The Devil hates loving and forgiving Christians. He loves phony and unforgiving Christians. If he had his way, he would try to talk us into cutting our heads off to eliminate a headache. Whenever we harbor resentments, grudges, and bitterness, we are allowing him to trick us by swallowing the poison pill of bitterness.

Hebrews 12:14 and 15
(14) Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
(15) See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

If we are bitter or angry, we are hurting other people in our lives and ourselves as well. Forgiveness might not change the other person, but it will always change us. Forgiveness allows God to begin the healing process in and around us.

Let’s do ourselves a favor—forgive!

Endnotes

1. Dr. Don Colbert, Deadly Emotions, Understanding the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection that can Heal or Destroy You, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 2003, p. 25.
2. Ibid, p. 6; L.D. Kubzansky, I. Kawachi, A. Spirio III, et. al., “Is Worrying Bad for Your Heart? A Prospective Study of Worry and Coronary Heart Disease in the Normative Aging Study,” Circulation, 94. (1997); pp. 818-824.
3. Deliverance Ministry is the term used to refer to the Christian field of helping to free people from demonic oppression. Wikipedia describes Deliverance Ministry as “activities carried out by individuals or groups aimed at solving problems related to demons and spirits, especially possession. Leaders of and adherents to these ministries emphasize the activities of evil spirits in many physical, psychological, or emotional maladies that people experience.”
4. It is by comparing the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 and Luke 11 that it becomes clear that “debt” includes the debt created by our sin.
5. Bill Dallas with George Barna, Lessons From San Quentin, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois, 2009, p. 171.
6. The proper translation of this verse is not known and Bible scholars widely disagree on its proper translation. See John Schoenheit, Revised English Version Commentary, Spirit & Truth Fellowship International, Matthew 19:21-22.

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