Free to Forgive
Week 11 of the Overcome Blog Series
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,” (Matthew 6:14).
One of the quickest ways to release the past is through forgiveness. Believe it or not, forgiveness is one of my least favorite topics to teach in Bible study or in my women’s group. Everyone wants forgiveness from God and others but many don’t want to forgive. People expect others to forgive them but they come up with excuses when they need to forgive someone else.
I firmly believe many people cannot move beyond their pasts because they refuse to forgive the trespasses committed against them. Perhaps feeling justified in withholding forgiveness is human nature, especially when you consider we believe trespasses committed against us are more heinous than those we committed against others and undeserving of forgiveness. Which isn’t true.
People mistakenly think forgiving others means we’re condoning the offense. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you agree or excuse what they did. Forgiveness says we aren’t expecting payment for the offense.
Forgiving someone shows the Lord we’re willing to extend the grace to others He’s extended to us. Forgiveness is steeped in love, obedience, grace, and mercy. Forgiving shows the Lord we put His Word, His commands, before our feelings and emotions. Releasing others and the pain they’ve caused also show the Lord we trust Him.
Unforgiveness is bondage for the one refusing to forgive. How can we walk as Overcomers if we’re in bondage to unforgiveness? Unforgiveness binds your hands and feet, as well as your mind and heart, in shackles. Unforgiveness has your mind and heart in shackles. Unforgiveness makes you a slave. The memory of the person and what they did can set you off. The memory can make you hate. The memory can make you wish harm upon the offender. If you are a Christian, these attitudes don’t belong in your heart regardless what happened to you.
Let me make a quick distinction: I believe with all my heart we can forgive immediately. I don’t believe forgiveness is a process. However, healing can be a process. Many people won’t forgive because they still feel hurt over what happened in the past.
Over the years, I’ve had to counsel women who were going through the same anger and bitterness toward their fathers I experienced with my own. I could minister to them from a place of love because the Lord healed me. The unforgiveness toward my father was gone and his absence no longer controlled me, my emotions, or my actions. I can honestly say I love, honor, and respect my father and want God’s best for him. He’s a great man with an uncanny sense of humor, and I bless God for his life.
Free yourself from the bondage of unforgiveness and walk in freedom. Overcomers may find forgiving others difficult, but they extend forgiveness anyway because they refuse to let anything interfere with their relationships with God. They will forgive, heal, and forgive again if necessary. They prevail over and conquer unforgiveness so they can walk in liberty. If you’re harboring unforgiveness, I urge you to forgive quickly and let God give you the victory.
Did you enjoy this excerpt from Aretha’s book, Overcomer: 25 Keys to Walking Victoriously?
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