Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. – Colossians 3:13
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slanderous talk, as well as all types of evil behavior.
32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines “wounds that will not heal,” as chronic wounds that do not heal after six weeks. These wounds may begin as a small scratch or a pimple. They seem to better but never heal completely.
How many American adults have “wounds that will not heal”? The number is surprising and staggering, almost 6 million American adults.
But what about spiritual wounds? How many of us carry them with us for years, decades, or even most of our lifetimes?
There was a woman, now in her eighties that had become crotchety, quarrelsome, sad, and bitter. There was no real happiness in her life and she never developed any deep and meaningful relationships with others. But was she physically ill? No, but she had a wounded heart. Her heart wound was chronic and never healed. She had an aunt who had said insulting things to her 50 years earlier. She simply could not forgive her aunt for what she had said. They never spoke again. After over 50 years, she still had a vivid, detailed memory of the event in precise detail. It was as though what it happened yesterday. All of the resentment, anger, and bitterness were still present. Sadly, she rehearsed it frequently. It was like watching reruns of an enjoyable TV program. But this poor lady’s reruns were anything but enjoyable. She was miserable, and chronic, reoccurring, soul-sickness.
The Lord Jesus Christ had warned that if we refuse to forgive from our hearts, we are handed over to the torturers (Matthew 18: 34–35).
It has been said that the Father’s children are very much like porcupines. In winter, the cold drives them to huddle together to keep warm. But when they get too close to each other, they began jabbing one another with their quills. Of course the pain drives them apart. Unforgiveness, is like a slow and dreadful dance. In and out we go, coming together and drifting apart.
Are there similar issues with unforgiveness in our own lives? How can we turn it around? Is it possible to make a fresh start?
The Lord Jesus Christ encountered a man who had an illness that lasted 38 years. This illness was physical. But their interaction on the surface seems very odd even weird. When Jesus saw him, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” (John 5:6). Rather than replying, “Yes,” the man simply went into a litany of complaints and sorrows.
Ask yourself, “do I want to get well?”
“Forgiveness occurs when we stop saying, ‘Look what you’re doing to me,’ and start saying, ‘What can I do to relieve your hurt?’ That is when we forgive, when we are no longer concerned about self, but are concerned about what we are doing to someone else as retaliation for what they have done to us” (Stedman).
REFLECT & PRAY
“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die” (Saint Augustine).
Father thank you for always forgiving me. Help me to focus on Your forgiveness of me, so that I may forgive others.
Why is it so hard to forgive? That question has been asked down through the ages. Innumerable answers have been suggested. Perhaps the answer is quite simple, fallen people are all a bit narcissistic and self-centered. Of course, this is much more pronounced in some more than others. But our natural inclination seems to be, to ask, “what about me?” We are the center of our of our own little worlds, and seem somehow hardwired to retaliate, get even. The more we give into this, the more resentment we feel. We struggle to forgive; we resist it, and simply refuse to do so.
Forgiveness requires empathy. We have to break free from our self-focus, and focus on others. Perhaps, putting it another way, we should focus on the good that other people have done, rather than the pain, and sorrow, and offenses we have experienced at their hands. But take it a step further. Suppose we can think of nothing good that another person has done. I visualize perhaps a literal torturer from the infamous period of the Inquisition.
At one level, that’s way the Father sees fallen humanity.
10 “No one is righteous– not even one.
11 No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God.
12 All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”
What did the Father choose to do? We who are His children, know the answer. He chose to forgive us. Why would He make such a choice? Because God has a kind, gracious, merciful, loving heart. There is no limit to the Father’s love. There is no limit to the Father’s forgiveness. Furthermore, not a day goes by in the lives of His children, when they do not need forgiveness. He never withholds it.
Forgiveness is defined as “giving up resentment against someone and surrendering one’s right to retaliate no matter what the other person did.”
Unforgiveness is “a deliberate, willful refusal to give up resentment or an insistence that someone pay for a wrong that was committed” (Stanley).
Unforgiveness sounds like this: “Pay me what you owe.” “I demand an apology.” “Give me my rights.” “Let me have what’s coming to me.” “Treat me like I deserve.” “I demand to be treated with respect” (Stedman).
Do we want our wounded hearts healed? Do we want to be well? Healing begins only when we say “Yes.” It is up to each and every one of us to make the choice to embrace forgiveness. We can experience release from unforgiveness by choosing to do so. It is not a one-time choice. Over time you must continue to make the same choice. If resentment and pain remain within our hearts, we can choose to be freed from it by releasing others of the debt they owe us. Living or dead, those that have hurt us can be released from the pain which they have caused us.
Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. – Colossians 3:13
There was a day in the life of each of the King’s children, when the Father said, “You are forgiven, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Our sin-debt was canceled, and we were cleansed, blameless, free.
That freedom can be ours again every day of our lives. Remember, embrace and visualize that moment. Then we will be able to forgive others as we have been forgiven.