By Kendra Clarke
Forgiveness is something we sometimes withhold because it provides us with a false sense of power or control over a situation when being hurt was the original response. “You hurt me, I hurt you” or “tit for tat” is the comeback that our flesh resorts to when our backs are against the wall to express the fact that we have been hurt and feel violated. The act of forgiving when we have been made to feel so powerless is the hardest thing to wrap our minds and hearts around because not forgiving, in its own little way, provides us with a sense of protection from the person(s) who hurt us and a little taste of retribution or revenge. Only we, through experience, know that this is indeed not the case because in not forgiving, oftentimes, we and not the object(s) of our hurt are left to wear the scars of an unforgiving heart.
Many of us have heard that forgiveness is not only for those that hurt us, but it is meant for us as well. Our flesh does not want to hear that forgiveness should be the gold standard, but it is what God intended and what He instructs us to do.
Matthew 6:14-15 says, “…for if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”. Furthermore, Colossians 3:13 states, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 goes on to say, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.”
When we look at it in this context, unforgiveness carries with it a terrible price because it means being disobedient to God. Forgiveness can be downright difficult and feel counterintuitive, but it is necessary nonetheless. Dwelling on the pains and hurts of our past expends an enormous amount of energy which could be channeled elsewhere. Bitterness, negativity, self-pity, and anger will serve no good purpose in our lives and will wreak havoc on our physical, emotional and mental well-being. Having a victim-mentality will in fact stunt our spiritual growth, weigh or slow us down if not stop us entirely from being in the position to grab hold and receive our blessings.
Life is too short to waste even a moment carrying around resentment, heartache and baggage. Let it go! Life isn’t fair, injustices will occur, but tough times will not persist for long. Grieve or mourn for a season, but then we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and do as Paul says in Philippians 4:8,
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”