Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – Colossians 3:13

What is forgiveness?

The word “forgive” means to pardon someone for their trespasses.

It means to excuse a person from the things they have done against you, to absolve them from any punishment. It means to renounce your anger at that person, and not to hold it against them.

Hmm… easier said than done right?

Maybe you are one of those that say they have forgiven someone, and then use the very things you “forgave” against them later?

Have you ever brought up past transgressions to hurt or wound the person you are angry with?

Yeah… maybe like me you’ve done that once or twice.

Imagine if God did this to us?

Imagine if you had a fight with God, or didn’t listen to God.

What if He said, “Well remember the time when you were 6 and told your parents a lie? Remember when you were 9 and you stole candy from the store? Remember the first time you used my name in vain?”

Oh my!

The Hidden Meaning of Forgiveness

You cannot forgive someone, and still be angry at them for what they have done. You cannot forgive someone, and still hold a grudge against them.

God tells us to forgive each other as HE has forgiven us. He tells us not to judge others for their actions, after we have pardoned them.

He tells us not to hold a grudge against them, but rather to forgive them in our hearts. Psalm 103:12 says:

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. “

So we are to do the same… right?

Something Devastating Happened to Me

I have been recently challenged in this area in a big way.

Someone who devastated my life a couple of years ago, has suddenly come back and asked me to forgive them for the wrong they did and the hurt they caused.

This person has recently rededicated their life back to the Lord and wants to make things right with me.

I have to admit when I first heard this person’s voice again I got sick to my stomach… the hurt that this person inflicted on me was just so deep.

There is no way, in my flesh, I ever want to forgive this person… Ever!

My mind started replaying the whole painful scenario and my heart said, “Oh No Way!  Rededication or not!”

But, if I am a child of God, a disciple of Jesus, how can I withhold forgiveness from anyone, when I have been forgiven for so much.

With my eyes lifted to heaven I said, “This is a hard pill to swallow Lord”. Scripture exhorts us to:

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;”  Heb 12:14-15

How Unforgiveness Hurts You

Unforgiveness on my part can only cause my heart to be hardened, can only hurt me and cause bitterness to take root and quench the move of the Holy Spirit in my life.

Bitterness and unforgiveness go hand in hand and when I am bogged down and entrenched in it, it becomes like quicksand and I begin to sink in its miry muck. My attitude stinks and everyone around me sees it.

So now being confronted with this, I am learning that forgiveness is not a feeling. It’s not forgetting or pretending you weren’t hurt either.

It’s not trusting the person again; it’s not even reconciliation.

Forgiveness is a DECISION you make to OBEY God.  

No one, not even God can make you forgive someone. You must decide to give up your right to hurt the person back.

When I choose to forgive those who hurt me because God has forgiven me for the hurts I have caused Him, then forgiveness actually protects my heart against the enemy.  He is the one that wants our hearts hard and unusable by God.

But, I know I can’t do this on my own.

My flesh thinks it has the right to be angry and hold resentment against this person and it doesn’t want to let go.

I need the power of the Holy Spirit to permeate my life so that I can overcome the flesh and leave the hurt and anger at the feet of Jesus. When I do this I am no longer in bondage to the hurt this person inflicted… , but free to love in the Spirit.

The wonderful thing I have found is that when I forgive, I release God to work directly on the other person. When I refuse to forgive, I erect a wall between God and I and I can’t pray.

When I don’t forgive I’m saying that what that person did to me is more important than continuing in my relationship with God.

Key Takeaway

Forgiveness cancels the offender’s debt against us like Christ cancelled our debt against Him.

Forgiveness is a process, it takes time, but it is an act of grace that reflects God’s treatment towards us.  

I know I have truly forgiven when the love of God can flow through me to the person who wronged me.

When my decisions are not controlled by the other person’s behavior, I know I have forgiven.

When I am free from the pain, anger and hatred towards that person and experiencing God’s peace, I know I have truly forgiven.

When I can be joyful that this person is finally right with God, which is what is most important after all, then I know that I have truly forgiven.

So, what about this person that has entered my life again?

Well, I am willing to forgive and by God’s strength and the power of His Holy Spirit I will truly be able to say. Yes, so and so… I forgive you and really mean it.

Do you need to forgive someone? Is the lack of forgiveness keeping you from serving God today?

Ask God to give you the desire to forgive and then the ability to do so.

Go to the Bible and read Psalm 66:18-20; 1 John 1:9; Matthew 6:14; Matthew 18:21-35; Romans 5:8; Colossians 2:13 & 3:13.