Matthew 6:14-15 If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Forgiveness is a choice. Too many times, we say I can’t ever forgive someone for what they’ve done to me or even forgive myself for doing what I did. However, forgiveness starts with a conscious decision to forgive. Jesus states “If” meaning that He has given us the ability to choose whether or not to hold on to the anger, hurt, and pain of the past. So is forgiveness easy? No. Is it possible? Yes.
First, we must make the decision to forgive those who have “sinned against us” or, in other words, have wronged us; whether that is someone else or ourselves. Second, we must pray for God to heal us of the mental, emotional, and/or physical effects of the sin that was committed against us. Third, we must let go of negative emotions that arise and take on positive emotions of love, joy, and peace. Like a wound that takes time to heal, forgiveness is a process; a process of acknowledging the unforgiveness in our life, curing the wound through the choice of forgiveness and prayer. It will not be healed by simply bandaging it and suppressing the negative emotions.
Unforgiveness will control you if you don’t let it go. Studies have even shown how our bodies increase stress and impair health and immunity. Unforgiveness will control your thoughts, words, and actions. It will lead you to react in ways that may seem unreasonable to others, but deep down inside it makes complete sense to you. Unforgiveness becomes a weight that you carry in your conscious and subconscious. Two popular quotes about unforgiveness are “unforgiveness is like taking poison, but expecting someone else to die” and “unforgiveness is choosing to stay trapped in a jail cell of bitterness, serving time for someone else’s crime.”
In your journey of forgiveness, I urge you to equip yourself with God’s word to light your path and guide you through what sometimes feels like a dark road. The bible has over 90 scriptures regarding forgiveness. Here are just a few to get you started down the right road:
- Matthew 5:23-24 Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering
- Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
- Mark 11:25 Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.
- Luke 23:34 But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing ” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.
- Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
So, who do you have to forgive today so that our Heavenly Father can forgive you? Do you have to forgive yourself for mistakes you’ve made in the past? What do you need to forgive them/yourself for? What steps will you make today toward forgiveness? Or maybe, do you have to ask someone to forgive you so that you can forgive yourself? Here are four powerful statements to use when asking someone to forgive you:
- I’m sorry for…
- I know what I did hurt you and I was wrong because…
- I was wrong. In the future, I will….
- Will you forgive me?
Take action today and watch forgiveness bring peace and liberty into your life. Also, choose to accept and receive Jesus’ unfailing love and forgiveness towards you as His mercies are new every morning.