by Charmain Hibberd
Marketing Assistant (Writer), CBN Europe
Harbouring unforgiveness can have a detrimental effect on our lives – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Withholding forgiveness from others, and even ourselves, robs us of the best life that God has for us and can give way for bitterness to take root.
The bible is very clear about forgiveness and unforgiveness:
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
(Matthew 6:14-15 NIV)
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
(Mark 11:25 NIV)
We are encouraged to check ourselves before entering into any kind of spiritual practice to see if we are holding unforgiveness against anyone as this may hinder us.
The first set of people you may need to forgive are others.
Life hands us many twists and sometimes others do not treat us or respond to us in a way that we appreciate. We end up hurt, we end up wounded, we end up broken. The people we need to forgive may be friends, family members or acquaintances – either way, we need to look into our own hearts and ask ourselves honestly if we are holding any unforgiveness toward them.
It is said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to be harmed. It just doesn’t work.
Diminishing your pain or offence does not work either. We must acknowledge that we are hurt, that we are struggling to reconcile that hurt with the offender and choose to release them from any kind of retaliation.
It is not easy but in forgiving others we actually end up releasing ourselves.
Similarly, you may have made your own mistakes and are finding it difficult to forgive yourself.
We need to be able to extend the same grace to ourselves that we would to another person. We, too, are human and prone to making mistakes and misjudging situations. When that happens, we need to know that we won’t be held to account for every ill offence but will be graciously forgiven.
As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
(Psalm 103:12 NIV)
If God can remove our offences and wrongdoing from us this much, we can surely do the same for ourselves and others. Holding onto unforgiveness harms us and prevent us from living the full life that Jesus died for us to have.
Practically speaking, you may need to have a conversation with someone or write down a prayer that will help you to let go of unforgiveness. Whatever it is that helps you to move, do it. It will be worth it in the end.
Further reading: Matthew 18:21-25, Matthew 5:23-24, 1 John 3:21, 1 John 1:7
I recognise that I have been holding unforgiveness in my heart towards________________. Please help me to release them/myself and to move on from the offence. I choose today to forgive and move on with my life. Forgive me for holding this unforgiveness and help me to deal better with offence in the future.
In Jesus’ name,