One of the lessons I have learned is that forgiveness is important to God and important to the process of getting to the next level. The Word of God makes it very clear that forgiveness is important, in fact, Jesus said in the book of Matthew that “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15). So, forgiveness is a vital part of our process as believers in Jesus and Jesus makes it very clear that to be forgiven, we must also forgive. Yet, I know firsthand how difficult forgiveness can be, especially when the people you should forgive have been trusted with your heart or your finances or even your children. It can also be especially difficult to forgive someone who is not apologetic about their behavior because in their minds they have done nothing wrong.
I have heard so many people say that forgiveness is not about the person you need to forgive, it’s about you and they are correct. In the scripture verse above Jesus never said that you need to forgive them to their face or tell them that you forgive them. He did not say that you need to wait until they apologize or until they recognize their wrong. He said to forgive and you will be forgiven, so it is not about the person who hurt you, it is about you. Forgiveness is about you being free of the sting of what happened; it is about you being available in your heart, mind, and spirit to really enjoy the freedom Christ brought for you when He died on the cross. Forgiveness releases you from the bondage of what they did to you. Forgiveness not only allows you to release them, but it also releases you from the pain of what they did. It allows you to walk away clear, knowing that you have done what you needed to do.
I know that it can be painful to think about what someone else has done to you and it can be hard to let that go. It’s easier to hold onto something and to seemingly hold your pain over someone else’s head but it’s causing you harm, blocking your prayers, and hindering you from the greater God wants to do in your life. I know this because a few years ago, God began to deal with me on this very subject. People I allowed in my life took advantage of me in so many ways, they’d taken my gifts, my love, and more and that hurt me, but for me to move on with my life in freedom, I needed to forgive them. So, for a few months I read through and prayed through a book called O Lord, Forgive Them: 30 Days of Praying for Your Enemies by Zari Banks. The book is designed as a 30-day devotional, but my first time reading through it, it took me nearly double the time because as I prayed through the book the Lord dealt with me on how I allowed the hurt inflicted on me by others to stop me from pursuing my dreams. He dealt with me on the hurt I had for people living and dead and how I did not want to forgive them because I wanted something to be angry about and I wanted to have something to hold over those who had hurt me. I felt justified in my unforgiveness because they did not deserve it, but then the Lord said to me, “but do you deserve forgiveness?” That cut like a knife deep in my heart because the truth is I did not deserve forgiveness, it is only be His mercy and death on the cross that I am even allowed to be forgiven. So, every day I battled through and prayed for those who hurt me and by the end of it, I was in a much better place. I was no longer holding onto past hurts and infractions done to me and I was finally free of the pain and sting of unforgiveness. I could see how the unforgiveness I held onto affected my relationships because I held back based on the hurt places I had been in, but now I was free and did not have to change who I was because I was afraid of being hurt again. My walk through forgiveness had not only allowed me to forgive those who hurt me, but it allowed God to heal me completely so that I could be free to be me.
Today, I implore you that if you are reading this and know that you have some people you need to forgive, don’t wait. Get your freedom today and forgive them, your life will be so much better for it.
Love, Peace & Prayers for YOU!
Have you ever been in a situation where you stop and think to yourself, “If God had not changed me, I would be doing ____ right now?” I had this thought after a recent interaction that previously would have driven me to say some not so nice words.
God really has brought me a mighty long way. I was recently wrongly criticized for something that took major effort on my part. I was extremely annoyed by the comments given to me because not only was my effort not acknowledged, but also the other party’s criticism was misplaced because the other party felt they could do a better job. After receiving the criticism, I was hurt and very angry, but as I sat in my chair ready to throw in the towel and give up, God spoke to me. He told me to come to Him and while my first thought was to pick up the phone so that I could complain and vent to my friend, God said, “Come to me,” so I did. When I sat in my quiet place and talked to Him, I began to exchange my frustration for His wisdom and by the time I left His presence, I was feeling better than ever.
So, how is that different? Before, I would have stayed angry and been angry for a long time. I would have stomped around the house talking to anyone who would listen about my frustrations, about how unfair this person was being toward me, and about how angry I was toward the offender. I would have never prayed about it to get God’s voice on the matter, I would have walked around without forgiving, and I would have surely ignored that person completely until I felt they had suffered enough. But that is not how God wants any of us to live; The Word says in Luke 6:6 in God’s Word Translation, “Stop judging, and you will never be judged. Stop condemning, and you will never be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” It all applies, but the last part is what is key for me, “forgive, and you will be forgiven.” God wants forgiveness, not judgement or condemnation from us. It can be so hard to forgive, especially when you feel like you are right in your anger, but that is exactly what God wants from us.
God wants forgiveness from us because we can’t really love people completely holding onto anger. We cannot fully embrace others when there is hardness, bitterness and unforgiveness in our hearts. Our mouths may say that we have forgiven, but God knows our hearts and our hearts reveal the truth of who we are and how we feel. God wants forgiveness from us because that is His word! Forgiveness is not easy, but it is absolutely a must for us yet, at times, it can be the hardest thing we ever do. In this case, forgiveness for me, meant that I choose God’s way – coming to Him to release the frustrations and anger I felt. It meant leaving my feelings with Him and receiving His instruction, direction and ultimately His peace. The old Liela would not have done that at all; the old Liela would have bypassed God altogether and I would have been stuck in anger for days or weeks. Thankfully, I am no longer who I used to be; thankfully, God has changed me because I can forgive and move on from those negative and toxic emotions. It took a lot for me to get here and even more for me to actually realize that I had changed, but I thank God that His way is better than mine every day of the week.
My friend, ultimately we are all a WIP (Work In Progress) and none of us are perfect at all. God is continually working on us to make us who He needs us to be. It will not always be an easy journey, but know that just like you, I go through things too, and just like you, sometimes I miss the mark and other times I land right on it. The goal is not perfection – the goal is being less of who we were and more of what God wants us to be. If any of this rings true for you, comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Liela Marie Fuller
Author, Mother, Friend, Believer in Jesus...Really Just Me.
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