Forgiveness is defined as the act of releasing or letting go of resentment held for an offense. The first time I heard forgiveness is a choice, a gift you give yourself, I thought it was a complete load of crap! After all the drama I’d been through in my life, I thought, forgiveness is for suckers!
I endured betrayal and humiliation to the highest degree, and I suffered so much to the point I couldn’t forgive. I’d lost and given up too much, and for everything that was wasted, my time, my money, my love, I was bitter.
For years, I was angry, drowning in my own bitterness, distraught over what happened, why, and what could’ve been. It wasn’t until I wanted to see change in my life that I realized I was the problem.
That’s when God began to deal with me, repeatedly asking, how long will you mourn? The question comes from I Samuel 16 where God rejected Saul as king but Samuel had a hard time letting go of God’s decision.
“The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way.“
1 Samuel 16:1, NIV
Much like Samuel, God rejected in my life what I thought was a king too. Yet, I was still re-reading the last few chapters of my life and God had already turned the page. You see, the change I wanted to see had to first begin with me. You can’t expect for God to change your life when you refuse to change yourself.
Today, in this first installment of a series on forgiveness, I want to share with you 3 lessons I learned on my journey and why it really is a gift you give yourself.
1. Forgiveness is a choice and not one God will force us to make.
Forgiveness is a difficult decision because it requires a sacrifice to be effective. A sacrifice of our ego, our perspective about what happened to us, and how we feel about it.
Many believe forgiving those that have wronged them means accepting the offense as if it were okay, but that’s not it. Forgiveness means you will not allow the offense to take control of your mind. You refuse to let it deprive you of your peace. You trust God and leave vengeance in His hands. It means you will believe God for a replacement far greater than what you had to leave behind. Make the choice and choose forgiveness.
2. Unforgiveness in our hearts towards others blocks the connection between us and God.
Isaiah 59:2, CEV says, your sins are the roadblock between you and your God. That’s why he doesn’t answer your prayers or let you see his face. Sins of the heart like unforgiveness and resentment are just as much sins as adultery or theft. Is your ego really worth a disconnect from God to the point He won’t even listen to you?
Mark 11:25(AMP)says, whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him [drop the issue, let it go], so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions and wrongdoings [against Him and others].
3. Forgiveness is challenging because it forces you to confront yourself.
Confrontation can be uncomfortable, especially when it’s all about you! I’ve been there and had to cast my pride aside and call myself out on my own crap over some pretty tough situations where I felt my feelings were justified. However, if you want to break free from the chains of your past, you must be willing to confront it. Remember, your comfort is the enemy to your growth and what you do not confront will never change.
When I decided to let it all go, the trajectory of my life began to change for the better. It isn’t easy, but you let go of offenses by understanding that nothing that happens to you is accidental. Everything happens for an intended purpose. Things happen to awaken you to something that you need to change, reveal to you the true character of those around you, or show you who or what needs to be removed from your life.
We are instructed in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (AMP) to in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Don’t get stuck in the pain of what happened.Have hope in the promise of what will happen next. We are to forgive and move toward the path of healing knowing that all things work for our good.
Don’t live on the wrong side of offense. March forth and come out of your grave clothes. If you are struggling with the choice of forgiveness, I ask you as God continually asked me, how long will you mourn?