As I’ve mentioned previously the key to our release is forgiveness and this comes firstly in repentance (asking for our own forgiveness) and then forgiveness of others. The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) states: ‘Father forgive me for my sins’ and then continues with us asking for forgiveness for those who have hurt us. The second part of that prayer is hard, but I find the first part the hardest. I can quickly and easily see the faults of others but when it comes to my own faults and wrong doings I can be so blind and arrogant. My moments of sickness left me bitter towards myself I didn’t like being trapped in my failing useless body, in fact I resented it. But to discover that some of the issues were because of choices I’d made meant having to take a good long hard painful look at myself. I didn’t like what I saw. Growing up I had brownish red hair and people around me took delight in saying things like: “look at that red hair and fiery temper to match!”. In my teens it was a rule around my house to not talk to me before I had breakfast because all you’d get was a grunt. I had attitude issues and it was commonly said that I regularly gave people “the look”, you know the one where you throw ‘daggers’ with your eyes! Not a nice picture ay.
I tried hard to work on all my anger issues but they flared up when my kids were young. I’d often not handle a situation with the grace that was required of me. I remember attending a women’s event and they had a fountain as the focus, we were invited to hand something to God and wash our hands in the water to symbolise the cleansing. I remember feeling prompted to drown angry-Keona in that fountain because I desperately wanted to stop being a fool by allowing anger to dwell in my heart (Ecclesiastes 7:9). I proudly came home and promptly apologised and declared to my family that the angry me was gone!
I have to admit I’ve unfortunately had my moments still, but overall God has done and is doing a great work in my life. But as I reflect upon forgiveness I identify anger as a by-product of my unforgiveness towards myself. In 1 John 1:9 we are promised that when we freely confess our sins God will forgive us and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness, He will remove all that does not conform to His will and purpose from our life. My experience has been that this cleansing process is a painful one. When issues flare up I feel like I’m stuck back in that place of anger, but as I allow God to work I find that He is actually pulling up the roots of anger and other issues.
In Colossians 1:13-14 we find a promise that Jesus has drawn us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of Light because through Jesus we find redemption, forgiveness of sin and the cancellation of sin’s penalty.
Micah 7:19 promises that the Lord has extended His great compassion to us for He has destroyed sin’s power over us! He has cast all of our sins into the depths of the sea where they no longer have a hold on us!!! But again this can be a process of continually pressing in and trusting God to outwork this glorious promise. For example I am healed, I truly believe that, but it is taking some time for the physical weakness to leave my body.
Mark 11:24-25 is the wonderful promise that when we ask and pray with great faith then we will receive and have the things we have asked for (in accordance to God’s will). But we are reminded that when we are praying and asking for these things if we are holding unforgiveness towards anyone we are to forgive, drop the issue and let it go, by forgiving others God will also forgive us.
There are some pretty tough challenges contained in those verses but as I reflect upon them I’m also comforted to know that the Holy Spirit longs to assist me to live a life that reflects them.
It has been a process that God has taken me through and I think one of the things that broke through my hard veneer was to know that I was fully accepted (Romans 8:15), God called me His child despite all my faults and failings. That truth for me brought me so much hope and healing. As I allowed that truth to fix itself in my heart I allowed God deeper and deeper into my life to fix that which needed correcting. As I found deep forgiveness I discovered that forgiving others became so much easier.
I found that as God’s love bloomed in my heart I was able to move into a closer alignment to Romans 12:9-10 which urges us to not pretend to love others but to REALLY love them. We’re to despise evil, which I interpret here as a call to refuse to hate and reject others, and embrace everything that is good and virtuous. We’re to love with genuine tender love that delights in respecting and honouring others. It’s a HUGE call and one that I fail at time after time but as I allow God to grow and mature me I believe that genuine, truthful and appropriate love for others will grow.
“Admitting we are wrong, acknowledging we have hurt others and asking for forgiveness is not easy, but essential for authentic relationships.” Christine Caine
If you’re struggling with unforgiveness of yourself here is a prayer that you can pray:
Thank You that for the promise that when I freely confess my sins God will forgive me and cleanse me continually from all unrighteousness, He will remove all that does not conform to His will and purpose from my life. (1 John 1:9)
Thank You Lord Jesus for drawing me from the dominion of darkness and transferring me into the Kingdom of Light. Through Jesus I have been redeemed, I find forgiveness from my sins and the cancellation of sin’s penalty. (Colossians 1:13-14)
God I praise You for extending Your great compassion to me, thank You for destroying sin’s power over me! I believe that You’ve cast all of my sins into the depths of the sea where they no longer have a hold on me!!! (Micah 7:19)
Empower me to ask and pray with great faith, stir up my faith Lord. I long to receive and have the things that are in accordance to God’s will. When I pray and people are brought to my mind that I need to forgive, please enable me to forgive them. Lord, also help me to drop the issue and let it go. Just as I’ve been forgiven I need to forgive. Holy Spirit assist me to live a life that reflects Jesus’ character and nature. (Mark 11:24-25)
I thank You Abba that I’m a fully accepted Child through Jesus (Romans 8:15), help that truth to penetrate deep into my heart to bring hope and healing. I invite Your great transforming love deeper and deeper into my heart to fix that which needs correcting. Let forgiveness flow readily and freely from my life as Your great love blooms in my heart.
Let me not pretend to love people but genuinely love them. Enable me to despise evil, refuse to hate and reject others, and embrace everything that is good and virtuous. Let me love with genuine tender love that delights in respecting and honouring others (Romans 12:9-10). I praise You for forgiveness Lord. I pray all of these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
But my heart still cries: ‘what about me!”
When it comes to the subject of forgiveness there is a part of us that cries out: “but what about me?” because there is a deep desire for justice and even revenge. It is our human nature that screams out in protest as soon as we begin to think about forgiving others.
But remember Matthew 6:14-15 reminds us that when we pray we are to forgive the faults of others so that our Father in Heaven will also forgive us. We are warned that if we withhold forgiveness then God also withholds forgiveness to us. Ouch! That hurts doesn’t it?! What about the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35) and the call to forgive from our hearts so that forgiveness is not withheld from us. But it’s hard, right? I don’t think I’m alone in my struggle. But as Christians we are to be Jesus’ example to the world and when He was being crucified He cried out: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34 New King James Version)
I know that at times I’ve felt ‘crucified’ by people – I have felt like their words have pierced my heart with pain; I have felt my hands shake as the rage of injustice builds in my heart; I’ve felt my stomach churn as accusations were thrown at me; I have endured bullying which felt like shred of dignity being torn off me. I know people fail us and they hurt us deeply. I’ve had hurtful words thrown at me when all I was trying to do was comfort and assist someone through their pain. I can tell you right now in each of those situations my first words were not “Father forgive them”. I know that we can get into the habit of comparing our pain and feeling like ours is far greater than others. I know that people don’t fully understand our pain. BUT I also know that God never fails us. I know that Jesus FULLY understands because He faced life here on earth; He battled rejection and pain; faced disappointment and betrayal; and as I mentioned He has endured the most extreme pain a person can face – crucifixion. When I think about all that He endured I actually cannot begin to imagine His pain and suffering. I’ve watched the Mel Gibson movie The Passion Of The Christ and I can tell you right now it was brutal. So many times through that movie I felt physically sick at what was happening but I also think that it was important for me to watch it because when I’m having a bad day I can think about all Jesus endured. I can reflect upon that and I can know:
- My day isn’t anywhere near as bad as that.
- That when I ask for His help and He says that He understand I know that He truly does and in fact He understands human nature far better than I.
- That even in the hardest of moments Jesus cried out for the forgiveness of others.
There is a warning to not hold a grudge or try to get even, we’re not to seek to repay evil for evil, rather we’re to see and plan for ways that we can be gracious towards others. We’re urged to endeavour (focus all energies possible) to live in in peace with everyone. We’re not to be obsessed with taking revenge but rather hand the matter over to God and allow His righteous justice to prevail, for He states: “Vengeance is mine, and I will repay” (Romans 12:17-19).
There is an even harder call, to bless our enemies. Yes, I know not the kind of news we want our hurting heart to hear is it?! But God challenges us to feed our enemy if they are hungry and if they’re thirsty we’re to offer them something to drink (that is not laced with poison). When we do this we’re conquering evil with good. Now the next bit we can get excited about for all the wrong reasons and even think of doing that as we offer them food because it says when we are kind towards those who have hurt us we will heap burning coals of shame upon their heads (Romans 12:20-21). This is a confusing statement to put in and all I can really think to say is that when we respond with kindness to cruelty we reveal the nature of God that is contrary to the human nature. When we reveal God’s grace we invite His presence into the situation which can cause people to think carefully about their actions because one of the roles of the Holy Spirit, and it is His divine work alone, is to convict us of our wrong doings.
Therefore, as God’s children we are to have hearts full of compassion; display kindness; walk in humility; have a gentle and loving heart; and patiently endure injustice or unpleasant circumstances. We are to be gracious towards others by willingly and completely forgiving them because just as we have been forgiven we are expected and required to forgive. Through the help of the Holy Spirit the forgiveness extended to us can flow through our lives into the lives of others (Colossians 3:12-13).
“You can focus on the person who hurt you or the God who healed you. You will talk most about the one on whom you focus the most!” Christine Caine
Lord help me to cry out, from my heart, “Father, forgive them.” (Luke 23:34)
Holy Spirit help me to not hold a grudge or try to get even, to not seek to repay evil for evil, rather enable me to see and plan for ways that I can be gracious towards others. Let me endeavour (focus all energies possible) in living in peace with everyone. Let me not be obsessed with taking revenge but rather hand the matter completely over to You God, I’ll step back to allow Your righteous justice to prevail, for You state: “Vengeance is mine, and I will repay”. (Romans 12:17-19).
Therefore, as God’s child I ask for a heart full of compassion; let me display kindness as I walk in humility; grant me a gentle and loving heart that patiently endures injustice or unpleasant circumstances. Empower me to be gracious towards others by willingly and completely forgiving them because just as I’ve been forgiven I’m expected and required to forgive. Through the help of the Holy Spirit the forgiveness extended to me can flow through my life and into the lives of others (Colossians 3:12-13). I praise You for forgiveness Lord. I pray all of these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
I pray that this has encouraged and helped you. Many blessings, Keona
Note: The Passion Of The Christ (2004) is a movie depicting the final twelve hours of Jesus’ life with some flash backs to His entire life. Directed by Mel Gibson and starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus; Maia Morgenstern as Mary; Francesco De Vito as Peter; Luca Lionello as Judas and Monica Bellucci as Magdalen. Other cast members include: Christo Jivkov; Mattia Sbragia; Toni Bertorelli; Hristo Shopov; Claudia Gerini; and Fabio Sartor.