Written By: Kent Yount
Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we as human beings can do and process in our lives. It is hard for us to want to forgive someone after they have hurt us. So is it essential to our Christian walk? This is an issue that I have struggled with many times in my life. I would like to share some of my stories with you on forgiveness and how it is a powerful thing for your life, mentally and spiritually, and why it is essential to our Christian walk.
In this blog we’ll touch on a few things:
- Forgiving Others
- Forgiving Yourself
- The Dangers of Unforgiveness
I grew up in a broken home. My parents divorced when I was quite young. My dad was an alcoholic my whole life and ended up dying as a result of this addiction. Most of my memories of my dad were not good ones. All I remember is when he was drunk, he hit my mom and yelled at her. Not a very good family environment to say the least. All throughout my life I always wanted people to love me because I never felt that my father did. He never sent me birthday cards or Christmas gifts, and he hardly ever called me on the phone. It made me feel like he didn’t want me. It made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for someone to love me. It created resentment towards him, I was bitter, and angry that he didn’t do his job as a father.
I let that anger and unforgiveness settle in for so many years. When I heard he wasn’t doing well physically, I did nothing to restore my relationship with him because I felt like he had abandoned me and effectively communicated that he didn’t love me. I could not bring myself to choose to forgive him. However, once I made a trip to go see him, I saw that he couldn’t really talk or have a conversation and I felt convicted. As I sat in the hospice facility looking at my Dad who was at death’s door jaundiced by the cirrhosis and barely able to speak, I felt God get a hold of me and told me to wake up. I was running out of time to make amends. That nothing someone can do to you is unforgivable. If God could forgive me of my sin, I needed to forgive. Not only for my fathers good, but also my own. I broke down. I knew that my Dad could not talk back, but he could hear me. So I told him. I told him I forgave him for not being there for me when I needed him, and I saw a tear going down his face.
Forgive others as you have been
Forgiveness is essential for all of us because it is at the heart of the Gospel. When I forgave my dad, I stood in the forgiveness of Christ. I was able to forgive because I knew what Christ had done for me. It may be one of the hardest things we do in life, but it frees us from the bitterness and resentment that festers when we don’t forgive and is an act of obedience to Christ.
“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 (NLT)
The key to forgiveness is remembering that God loved us so much He sent his Son to die and forgave us of our sin to restore us into right relationship with Him. Since Jesus paid the ultimate price for us by dying on the cross, how could we do anything but forgive? How could we ignore his command to us to forgive those who have wronged us? Let God worry about the wrong you have suffered and choose freedom and restoration.
We need to not only forgive others, but also forgive ourselves. When we neglect forgiving ourselves, we leave our guilt to fester. Let me give you an example. After my dad passed, I still had guilt weighing down my heart, and I had no idea why it wasn’t gone. I’d done what I was supposed to do and forgive. So why did I still feel guilty? Soon after, God revealed that I had to forgive myself for not being open with him and not trying to fix our relationship when he was alive. We have to show ourselves love and forgiveness to deal properly with the hurt and guilt we have received from someone else’s wrong. Jesus died to free us and give us life abundantly! (John 10:10) Not so we could be bound by guilt, but so that we could live free in Christ.
The Dangers of Unforgiveness
If I haven’t convinced you yet, let’s talk about the damage of unforgiveness. Not forgiving someone can cause a lot of damage to you and others. Holding on to someone’s wrongs or your own guilt will do great damage such as trust issues, build up of anger and bitterness, cause issues in marriage, and affect your walk with Christ. This is why forgiveness is essential: it restores our relationships, with God, ourselves, and others. Most are probably familiar with the popular picture of God on one side of a great chasm and man on the other side with a cross laid horizontally over the divide. This is a great picture of what Christ’s forgiveness does for us. It allows us access to God and rights the great divide from our sinful selves and His holiness. In a similar way, offering forgiveness is like offering a bridge to someone. To fill in the gap that has separated you and bring reconciliation, the restoration or harmony of friendship. Paul touches on Christ’s work of reconciliation in 2 Corinthians 2:18-20a, “And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are God’s ambassadors” (NLT). Did you catch that? We are God’s ambassadors. We represent God to the world. How could we do anything less than what Christ has modeled for us? How can we not forgive if we are going to call ourselves followers of Christ? (1 John 2:6)
In conclusion, we learned that we need to forgive ourselves and others which is an act of obedience to God. That forgiveness is essential in our walk with Christ because it restores what was broken by sin. Christ is our ultimate example and as His followers, we must also forgive. We ultimately are God’s ambassadors to a broken world and need to live our lives with forgiveness as an example of God’s ultimate grace and forgiveness. I would like to challenge you today to think of someone who has offended you and pray about forgiving that person.