In my experience, unforgiveness is the number one reason why Christians are oppressed! Unforgiveness leads to bitterness and offense, which can cause you to waste your life trying to get even instead of fulfilling your own destiny by walking in your call. Many people spend their lives hating others and planning for revenge. However, bitterness has no friends. There is no container known to man that will hold it. It always leaks out onto those we love the most. It is important that we forgive all those who sinned against us so that we can be free to go on with our lives! It is also crucial that we learn to forgive ourselves for our own sins.
UNFORGIVENESS WILL POISON YOUR LIFE
I am all too familiar with the plight of being profoundly wounded by others and relying on unforgiveness to protect me and even to bring justice against my oppressors. I received the Lord in 1973 during the Jesus Movement. I was 18 years old and living with a ton of pain in my heart. I used to lie in bed at night imagining creative ways to destroy the people who had abused me. I didn’t just want them dead; I wanted them to suffer the way they had caused me to suffer. Soon after I got saved, the Lord began to confront my unforgiveness. He told me that I needed to forgive the people who abused me or I would open the door to the tormentors in my life. It wasn’t easy at first but I realized that He had given me the power to forgive when He forgave me.
Joyce Meyers said, “Unforgiveness is like drinking deadly poison and thinking the other person’s going to die.” We see this principle played out in Scripture when Peter asked Jesus how many times he had to forgive (which seems humorous to me that Peter is the one asking how many times he has to forgive when he is the most offensive guy on the team).
Jesus’ response was in a parable, which you can read about in Matthew 18:21-35. I’ll give you the summary: A servant owed his master 10,000 bags of gold. The master took pity on him, canceled his debt, and let him go free. The next thing you know, the servant is choking a fellow-servant who owed him 100 silver coins. Instead of showing the fellow-servant mercy as his master had shown him, the servant threw his debtor in prison until he could pay him back. The master caught wind of this and asked his servant, “Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” Then, the master threw him in jail to be tortured until he could pay back all he owed. Jesus ended his parable by saying: “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
FORGIVENESS IS A RESPONSIBILITY
This parable is stunning to me. Unforgiveness puts us in prison.
If we fail to understand how big our debt of sin was to God and what it meant for Him to forgive it, we can fall into the trap of judging the much smaller wrongs of those around us. As we can see from the story, we are only hurting ourselves when we do that!
It is the privilege and the responsibility of royalty to forgive. Solomon, who was raised to be a prince from birth said, “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression” (Prov. 19:11). After Jesus rose from the dead, He breathed on His disciples, releasing His Spirit into them. Then He gave them their first mission as Spirit-filled believers, “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained” (John 20:23). Therefore, forgiveness is a choice but it’s really not an option.
5 LIES THAT WILL KEEP YOU TRAPPED IN UNFORGIVENESS
I don’t believe that anyone wants to intentionally live enslaved to the shackles of unforgiveness that brings torment to their life. So why do some people live in a lifestyle of bitterness? I’d propose that these 5 lies are contributors to being imprisoned to offense:
Unforgiveness is like an octopus, it has many tentacles that seep into your soul, and choke out your life. If you’re living in torment then I’d like to propose that working through forgiveness will deliver you from bondage and free you to begin living in peace!
My prayer for you today is that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened to see any areas of your life that are under the influence of unforgiveness. Remember that God is Redeemer of all things! There’s nothing in your life that is too messy, too big, too painful, too scary or even too ugly for Him to make whole!
~ Kris Vallotton
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