BY LEANN DILBECK –
No one willingly wants to go through life with their hands tied behind their back and yet so many of us choose to face life just that way by carrying unforgiveness in our hearts. It’s one of the Enemy’s most cunning ways of keeping us in bondage. For a Christian, it is one of the most unbecoming emotions in our witness. Whether it is denying forgiveness to ourselves for falling short or denying others whom we’ve been wronged by. We refuse to grant what is so freely given to us.
Unforgiveness doesn’t bring forth one thing honorable to God. It festers and generates such feelings of resentment, anger, bitterness, malice, sadness, and ultimately, a path of destruction. We want retaliation for how we were wronged.
God’s word in Ephesians 4:32 commands us…not suggests but commands us, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
Unforgiveness is a form of rebellion against God. It is a deliberate choice just like to love is a choice. We are ultimately responsible for every choice we make.
As Christians we have made a choice to be believers and to be a believer, you have to accept and believe everything that God left us in His word. We are to die to self. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” We are to be Christ-like so that others see Him and His love in us so our refusal to forgive someone is a choice of rebellion and not glorifying to the One who died for us and told our Heavenly Father, “Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
We are taught that our behavior has consequences. So, in so many cases, we feel as if we forgive them, then they have gotten away with something and as humans, we want that revenge or retaliation. We must remember that it is God that they will answer to…not us. To make the conscious choice to refuse forgiveness, doesn’t place them in bondage, it places us in bondage. Plus, we’re giving the lead rope to the one whom we have denied. They will possess a control over us. The Bible instructs us to not let the sun go down on our anger because it will give the devil an opportunity. Unforgiveness will ultimately lead to Satan having a toe-hold in our lives.
When Satan plants the negative seed of unforgiveness, it begins to affect our walk…our relationship with the Lord…our relationship with others. Just like other seeds, it will grow and what it grows are not the fruits of the Spirit but are weeds in the garden of life that sneak in and begin to strangle the vine. It will muffle the quiet still voice in our hearts of the Holy Spirit and choke every branch of our vine seeking the truth with his constant deceptions. It will multiply and begin destroying others in our garden of life that we have been entrusted with to nurture…like our children.
It has been my own personal experience, too, that unforgiveness puts us in blinders. We are not able to have a discerning spirit and for me, it prevented me from seeing the wondrous work God can do in a person’s life. The unforgiveness I harbored didn’t bring a spirit of humbleness but a Spirit, I’m ashamed to say, of self-righteousness. But through God’s patience and grace and most importantly, His forgiveness, I have been humbled and His blessings upon me, and my family, have been overflowing and abundant.
The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, none of which are fostered by refusing forgiveness. Perhaps it is what we learn through forgiveness that teaches us most the magnitude of God’s grace that He so freely gives to each of us unconditionally. Furthermore, our acts of forgiveness can speak volumes to believers and non-believers.
Whether intentional or not, we have all probably wronged someone, and as Christians, we should desire their forgiveness. It’s humbling when you consider that for all that have asked in Christ’s name, have been granted forgiveness by the One who gave His life for us. Is it really our right to deny that to others?
If you are shackled by unforgiveness right now, I know it seems impossible, but nothing is impossible with God. Forgiveness is an unconditional surrendering of your heart to God to allow Him to not only heal it but to grow you and your walk and your witness for Him. When we shed the pride and humble ourselves before the Lord…when all of the anger and bitterness are gone, God replaces it with love. A genuine Christian love and a sincere compassion to pray for them and whatever their needs may be.
Forgiveness is a reflection of strength and godly character.
Forgiveness is empowering.
Forgiveness is true freedom.
Forgiveness is breaking the Enemy’s bondage and setting yourself free.
All for His glory –