By: Samaria M Colbert
Luke 23:34 (KJV)
34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
Immaculee IIibagiza survived the Rwandan Genocide. In 1994 there was political unrest and ongoing tensions between two tribes the Hutu and Tutsi. The tension led to the murders of thousands of the Tutsi tribe. Immaculee family was one of the many who became victim to these crimes against humanity. Immaculee’s entire family was murdered while she and seven other women hid in a small bathroom for three months. Immaculee went on to write a New York times bestselling book entitled, Left To Tell and Led By Faith.
Eventually Immaculee did meet one of the murderers face to face where she told him that she forgave him.
Forgiveness is defined as to cease with resentment, bitter or anger towards someone that has caused a great offense. It means to grant pardon. It means to let go of. It means to not hold oneself or another hostage over the offense or offenses.
Forgiveness also means to release, and to pardon, towards another. It means to not carry the wrongful acts, done to us in our yesterday into our today, to impact our tomorrow. Forgiveness is the emotional and spiritual act of wiping away the hurt, pain, and turmoil.
Forgiveness is the conscious act, and deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance towards a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether or not they actually deserve your forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not earned, it is granted. Forgiveness is a decision. Forgiveness cannot be forced upon you. Forgiveness can be a hard concept for any individuals to conceive of. Most people can’t really conceive of why you would forgive someone who has hurt you particularly with some of the tragic things that are recently going on in our nation.
Forgiveness is the divine order of God. The only way we have access to the kingdom of God next to salvation and sanctification is forgiveness.
The reality is whatever the offender has done, holding it in your heart, mind and spirit will not help the situation. It will not make what happened go away. It does not hurt the offender. In fact in some ways it empowers them. For some the offender knew the intended damage it would have on you and it still has power over you, their intentions were malicious. When you continue to hold on to it you are giving them the power in your heart.
You can have unforgiveness in your heart towards a dead person. Unforgiveness impacts the mind, the will and the emotions. Unforgiveness creates a broken, damaged and emotionally wounded heart. The reality is there is no recompense in unforgiveness. Recompense is compensation or reward given for loss or harm suffered or effort made. You can’t reap the reward of wholeness and a healed heart when you don’t forgive.
First let us begin by looking at what scripture has to say about forgiveness.
Romans 5:8 (NKJV)
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
1 John 1:9 (NKJV)
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
John 3:16 (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
The first thing about forgiveness is that it originated from God Himself. Man did not come up with the idea or principle of forgiveness. The kingdom of God is all about love. Therefore strife, division, dissension, ill will, hurt, bitterness, anxiety, death and destruction do not exist in the kingdom. These things came to exist as a result of the first rebellion in heaven and the sin that Adam and Eve committed in the garden.
Man was introduced to these concepts that never existed prior. God never had to ask anyone for forgiveness, because He never did anything wrong. Satan is the one who rebelled and committed the first sin, not Adam and Eve as some imply.
The devil was the worship leader in heaven. He decided he didn’t want to be the worship leader he wanted to be worshipped. Even in heaven the only being that was ever worshiped was God. Satan decided that He wanted to be God. Many people imply that satan wanted to be like God, no that is not true. Satan wanted to be God Himself. If your heart is truly for the Lord, you want to be like Him. That was not satan’s motive. He wanted admiration, and worship. He desired power, prominence and position so he pursued it by any means necessary. There was a big revolt in heaven and the devil deceived many of the angels. He was evicted from heaven, and his angels. Now he still wants to be God, however he will never. My point is satan committed the first sin. However to date he has never asked for forgiveness, never repented and he has never admitted that he was wrong.
However after satan did what he did, sin entered into existence. It was Adam and Even who introduced sin to earth. Now we are all born into sin.
So everyone is in need of the savior Jesus, and we need to confess our sin, in order to be forgiven.
Psalm 51:5 (KJV)
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Because sin is in us, everyone at some point in their lives has committed a sin, most of us many sins.
Romans 3:22-23 (NKJV)
22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all[a] who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God
We all have a sin conscious. It means to be aware, to be pulled, lured or enticed by a sin or wrong doing. Sin simply means to act, think, practice or display behaviors that are contrary to the word of God. It means to act unrighteous, and to do wrong.
We read Romans 5:8 that says Christ died for us when we were still sinners. Meaning Christ made the ultimate sacrifice which was death to atone for our sin. Atone means to make amends. Before we thought to ask for forgiveness, He went ahead and died. We hadn’t asked for forgiveness, felt sorry for what we had done, or thought that we did anything wrong He died.
He didn’t just die for Christians, He died for the entire world. Meaning Christ decided to forgive us of what did before we did it. He decided to forgive us before we asked it. Now that is the powerful thing about forgiveness. Even now you can forgive someone without them ever acknowledging that they offended you.
We forgive because we are forgiven.
Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV)
32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
When you claim to be a Christian you are making the proclamation that you have been forgiven by Christ. You have confessed Him as Lord and savior. However we all have had incidents where we have had to ask for forgiveness to one another. The reality is we error in one way or the other, whether it be intentional or unintentional. Sometimes you can have the right motives but go about it the wrong way. Sometimes you were just wrong and had to humble yourself admit it and move forward. Think about a time you offended someone. Clearly you had to go back to that person and ask to be forgiven. We all have, that is a part of human nature.
The reality is if you don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive you.
Matthew 6:14-15 (NKJV)
14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses
Remember I said that in the kingdom of heaven things like bitterness, envy, hatred, unforgiveness don’t exist. The only way to enter the kingdom is to repent of your sins and ask Christ into your heart. However you can’t gain access to this kingdom with these things in your heart. The kingdom is the most powerful entity that exists. To be able to seek, obtain entrance to this kingdom, you need to first meet the requirements. Since the first requirement is repentance, if you don’t meet the requirements you don’t gain access. You can’t take these negative emotions into the kingdom. So if they are present your access is denied.
God will not hear your prayers if you don’t forgive. I know it sounds harsh considering some of the things you have been through but the truth hurts.
Matthew 18:21-35 (MSG)
A Story About Forgiveness
21 At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”
22 Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.
23-25 “The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.
26-27 “The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.
28 “The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’
29-31 “The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.
32-35 “The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”
A parable is a story that represents the kingdom of God. Hopefully you are seeing the point. One servant owed a great deal of money, but pleaded for forgiveness. Yet he would not bestow that same mercy to another, even though he owed a greater debt.
When a person does not forgive the greater issue is that they are prideful. Pride will keep you out of the kingdom of God.
Luke 17:3 (NKJV)
3 Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you,[a] rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
Forgiveness is not, not standing up for yourself. The scripture above means if your brother offends you still rebuke him, meaning let him know about it. Rebuke means to express sharp disapproval or criticism of (someone) because of their behavior or actions. Then it says forgive him. So often we confuse passiveness with forgiveness. Forgiveness is not allowing people to take advantage of you, all in the name of being a super Christian.
However the scripture means after you confront that person about their behavior, move on by forgiving them. There is a different between forgiveness, denial and repression. Denial means to deny or act as if the offense never happened or does not exist. Repression is to suppress or push down what you truly feel. Remember I said forgiveness can’t be forced upon you. When people try to force forgiveness on you it either fits in the category of repression, oppression or denial.
When you pray, God won’t hear your prayers if you have unforgiveness in your heart towards another.
Matthew 5:23-24 (NKJV)
23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
God won’t receive your offering if you have unforgiveness in your heart towards a brother.
Remember our Father in heaven forgives. In fact while He was in the process of being murdered He forgave.
Luke 23:34 (NKJV)
34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”[a]
And they divided His garments and cast lots.
Jesus knows what it is like to be humiliated, abused, misused, misunderstood, beaten, and wrongfully accused. Yet He forgave.
Forgiveness is not easy; most people don’t hold grudges over simply offenses. Often times it is the person closes to you that will hurt you the most. No matter how hard it is, remember it is possible.
We make the decision to forgive, Holy Spirit does the work. There are some sins against humanity that are simply unbearable and unthinkable. There are some offenses that without the presence of the Holy Spirit we will never overcome, due to how emotionally damaging it can be.
However without forgiveness there is not true repentence.
The definition of unforgiveness is simple it means, to not forgive. It means to carry the weight of yesterday’s hurts into our today. It means to carry the heavy burden of resentment, bitterness, anger, rage, hurt, turmoil, fear, violence and hatred, because of someone else’s offense towards you. It means to carry resentment
To forgive means to let go of the heavy burden of resentment, bitterness, anger, rage, hurt, turmoil, and fear.
Which one do you want? You can never have peace, with unforgiveness in your heart.
Finally a quote by Kagen Salmansohn, “Forgiveness is a process. Forgiveness is not approval of the offender’s wrong doing. It is not viewing what they did as less harmful than it truly was. And it’s not about giving the offender a “free pass” to keep on doing wrong actions against you. Forgiveness is about recognizing that staying in resentment creates an “active echo” of the pain the offender caused. By saying that the awful offense is “beyond forgiving” you give them continued power over you. Forgiveness begins with the mind recognizing that there’s truthful logic in how the past cannot be changed, but happily the present and future can be. Eventually forgiveness progresses to the heart with the heart deciding it will no longer allow the offender’s pain to take permanent residence in your heart. Yes it is a process, but eventually the mind and heart together recognize that the choice to forgive is both logical and spiritually liberating.
Forgiveness doesn’t excuse their behavior. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart. Quote by www.beyondordinary.com