The Truth about Forgiveness
by Fia Curley
Unforgiveness has the same effect as drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.
That may seem like an exaggeration, but harboring bitterness is sin, it’s dangerous, and it leads to death. The impact of turning away from forgiveness can be seen in our perspective of the world, how we think of and treat others, and view ourselves and the relationships we desire to enjoy.
Unfortunately, the topic of forgiveness seems to be more popular among those who know they need to receive it. Those in need of giving forgiveness are not always as enthusiastic about the subject.
There are many reasons we tend to harbor unforgiveness and bitterness toward those we feel have hurt us. These reasons are often varied, well thought out, and extremely unholy. The path away from righteousness is built with reasoning that attempts to exalt itself against the knowledge of God. Whether we’ve been hurt by others accidentally or intentionally, Jesus teaches us about walking in love.
“For if you love those who love you, what thanks do you receive? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks do you receive? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what thanks do you receive? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much in return. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be the sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and the evil. Be therefore merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Lk. 6:32–36)
It’s through the process of renewing our mind, that we’re able to walk in truth and freedom.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom. 12:2)
When we do not read the Bible regularly, we often believe the accuser’s lies about forgiveness, which lead us to be less fruitful. It’s important to identify these lies and apply truth by reading the Word and meditating on it regularly, in order to change the way we think.
I don’t feel like forgiving.
Forgiveness is not primarily an emotion. Very rarely do we feel like blessing anyone who’s hurt us, because of the sinful nature within. Forgiving while in pain is not our natural response. In fact, it’s not in our ability to change our emotions without the power of God. The power of the God allows us to accomplish the things God calls us to do. Through the Spirit, we can make the decision to forgive all and allow Him to align our emotions to the truth.
Forgiveness is not always possible.
As children of God, we’re able to forgive because of the Spirit of God within us. Literally the power of God resides within us to will and do His good pleasures—this includes forgiving others who have hurt us. The same God who ensures our salvation has given us all that is needed for life and godliness in order for us to live the way He did and reflect our Heavenly Father.
Forgiveness means the wrong didn’t matter.
The Lord sees all things and knows everything. When you’re hurt, those moments matter to God, they don’t go unnoticed. As a protective Father, God always takes care of His children. Forgiveness allows us to agree with God and put our trust in Him as the One who is able to enact vengeance in a just way.
Forgiveness puts me in a position to be hurt again.
The decision to forgive is not a sign of weakness, nor does it make us susceptible to being hurt again. As John Piper puts it, “if you are Christ’s, no one in this world can ultimately harm you. They can only bring you greater blessing.” When we’re hurt because of what someone did or did not do—or did or did not say—we are often encountering places within ourselves the Lord desires to cleanse, strengthen, and heal. As He heals us and we align with truth, we are able to walk in love toward those around us who are hurting and in need of healing.
What you could be facing
- We don’t believe God will take care of us.
- We believe what we feel is more real than the Scriptures.
- We have unrealistic expectations.
- We judge others based on their actions and judge ourselves based on our intentions.
Saturate Yourself with the Truth
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)
“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 Jn. 4:4)
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors . . . For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Mt. 6:12, 14–15)
“Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” (Lk. 6:28)
“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.” (Lk. 6:35)
“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.” (Isa. 53:7)
“For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13)
“If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness . . . Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outbursts, and blasphemies, with all malice, be taken away from you.” (Eph. 4:21–24, 31)
To find out more about healthy forgiveness that leads us away from bitterness, grab a copy of Tracey Bickle’s recent book, Chaos Beneath the Shade. With decades of experience in inner healing and working through her own personal disappointments, Tracey guides the reader through the realities of forgiveness over unmet expectations that can create bitterness within us toward the pathway to peace and the Prince of Peace who restores our souls.
Fia Curley served on the NightWatch at IHOPKC for many years, participating in prayer, worship, and intercession from midnight to 6am. Currently attending college in New York, she enjoys blending her passion for prayer, worship, and journalism as she labors with the Lord to see His goodness revealed to families, government leaders, and immigrants from non-Christian nations.