In this life, whether you are a Christian, we will experience heartbreak and unpleasant encounters with others that impact us emotionally. Sometimes those closest to us cause the deepest hurt and can leave wounds that seem impossible to heal. However, Christians (followers of Jesus Christ) must live according to biblical standards. Those standards can be difficult to live by, especially if someone has hurt us deeply.
The matter of forgiveness makes it most difficult. Jesus commanded us to forgive (Matthew 6:14-15). The ability to forgive is contingent upon how much we desire to please God in everything by obeying His commandments. If our heart’s desire is to be in a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, He empowers us to manage all the issues and challenges of our faith walk, especially forgiveness.
I have experienced some of the most hurtful occurrences in life, but because of my devotion to Jesus Christ and His lordship over my life, I am free to forgive as He commanded. This freedom comes through the supernatural power of His Holy Spirit. Therefore, to experience the liberating power of forgiveness, we must see from God’s perspective.
Living with unforgiveness is living dangerously! Not only is our spiritual health at risk, our physical and emotional wellbeing is as well, according to medical research. My book, “Be Free to Forgive” documents medical research with a list of unhealthy risks. Below are key points regarding forgiveness for Christians to experience the power of forgiveness and emotional healing.
Forgiveness is an absolute essential if we are going to live this life to the fullest as God intended! Sadly, unforgiveness & bitterness are strongholds in the Church (people of God), and negatively affect one’s spiritual growth (relationship with Christ and others), and the effectiveness of the ministry.
Forgiveness is always the responsibility of the person offended (wronged, hurt) whether the offender asks for forgiveness or not. It is personal because it is about your personal relationship with Christ, namely your obedience to God’s Word.
Unforgiveness is NOT letting go; or refusing to release an offender (person that hurt you, wronged you, caused you pain), instead of releasing the individual, they choose to hold on to the offense (hurt) and, of course, the offender. Unforgiveness is an act of the will and not our emotions. However, unforgiveness can control our emotions, thoughts, and behavior. God’s command is, forgive. God’s commands require obedience and submission to His will.
If unforgiveness festers, it leads to bitterness. The danger is that it spreads; it grows deep and becomes a “root of bitterness” (Heb. 12:15). When that happens, it affects the body and spirit. It is like an infection that spreads; it becomes an emotional cancer. Our emotional wounds attract domineering spirits! A root of bitterness (spirit of bitterness) has other related spirits besides unforgiveness, i.e., rage, anger, violence, hatred, revenge, retaliation, and even murder. The spirit of unforgiveness and root of bitterness are the symptoms and manifestation of high-ranking spirits—strongman. Unforgiveness and bitterness are companions, which lead to falling short of the grace of God (Hebrews 12:14,15).
Hopefully, the above keys will help you realize the need to experience the freedom of forgiveness and the danger of living with unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is sin, and whenever there is sin in us, we are in danger of being oppressed, bound, and under the control of demonic spirits. We cannot be our authentic self if we are under the control of those who offended (hurt) us, as well as the spirit of unforgiveness. Living dangerously with unforgiveness is living in bondage.
Hebrews 12:5 starts out talking about the chastening of the Lord before he gets to the root of bitterness. God chastens every true believer tempted by unforgiveness and bitterness to forgive that they may yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness (v.11) A person HAS to forgive in order to break the power of bitterness. If we reject the chastening of the Lord, the root of bitterness springs up, grows deeper, gets into the spirit of a person and results in bondage, physical afflictions, and spiritual death.
Be free to forgive!
Reference: Matthew 6:12, 14-15; Mark 11:24-26; Eph. 4:31-32
©2021 Queen E. Phillips. All rights reserved. (Based on the book, “Be Free to Forgive: Seeing from God’s Perspective to Experience the Power of Forgiveness, ©2013, 2015.