The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 29, 2014

The Unforgiving Heart


The Daily Item

— When speaking with family, friends and acquaintances, sometime during the conversation I notice a topic usually surfaces regarding anger, frustration and upsetting thoughts regarding someone who has hurt or wronged them.  It becomes evident they have been unable to come to terms with a particular person or circumstance and as a result, they harbor resentment in their heart (mind/feelings/intellect).  When a situation reaches the point of un-forgiveness, the person can become consumed by the problem as it becomes part of their daily thoughts and conversation in a very negative and harmful way.

From a Christian perspective, what does the Bible teach us in regard to forgiveness?  God’s forgiveness of mankind is first noticed in Genesis 3:15 whereby He proclaimed the essence of the “Everlasting Covenant”, thus giving us the assurance of a Savior (the Seed of the woman) to conquer sin and Satan.  In fulfillment of Bible prophecy, Jesus provided us with His selfless example of forgiveness when He was crucified for our sins at the Cross of Calvary exposing Satan as a liar and a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44).  Jesus practiced forgiveness in every circumstance throughout His earthly life. Therefore, as followers of Jesus Christ, how should we live our lives in regard to our relationship to our families and to others?  The choice we make may alter our eternal destiny, our relationship with God and others, and our emotional and physical well-being.     

Let us discuss what forgiveness is not:  Our forgiveness of another is not the forgiveness of the person’s sin – we are to forgive the person and God will forgive our offender’s sin if they are sincerely sorry and request to be forgiven.   Forgiveness does not mean that we “forgive and forget”.  We are not to condone or excuse the person who has hurt us.  The wrongful act or situation still remains wrong and the person is accountable for their actions against us.  Also, forgiveness does not always result in reconciliation of the parties involved - often the violator does not show remorse and may not ever apologize or repent.  Depending on the situation, forgiveness does not necessarily mean that we have an obligation to go to the person and tell them that we have forgiven them.       

 

So then, what is forgiveness and its benefits?  Because He loves everyone, God never instructs us to do anything that is not for our good.  Forgiveness heals us regarding our past memories, hurts and experiences.  Our decision to forgive results in personal wellness as we welcome a new perspective which arrives through emotional freedom.  The past will no longer dominate us in thought or action.  Forgiving improves our relationship with God and greatly benefits us by removing resentment and bitterness.  It can also heal us physically as stressful and unhealthy thoughts leave us.   Forgiveness frees us from negative past experiences as we confront and deal with reality - it allows us to choose our future, to set up goals and to move on with our life.

An unforgiving person may hope that by continuing in an attitude of anger that this will be a way to be sure the person who has hurt them is punished.  Many people do not want to risk forgiving someone because they believe their violator will then be empowered while they are still hurting and suffering.  Actually, an offender may not care at all about how we feel and has gone on with their life without giving the injured person a thought.  Unfortunately, we may spend years of experiencing hate and resentment, but the only person we hurt is ourselves which often affects our physical and emotional health.

A common area of concern is in the workplace.  Many times there are conflicts because of differences in personalities and also from situations that develop from prideful attitudes and harmful gossip.  Can we peacefully exist with our employers and co-workers?

Is it possible to forgive one another, while still harboring bitterness and pain of the circumstances?

Forgiveness is a decision that we make regarding our situation.  It is not a feeling.  This does not mean that we forget what has happened in the past or ignore our current struggle.  It does not mean that we must now associate with a person who is responsible for our situation.  Simply put, forgiveness is a means God has provided in order to release us from the bondage of control that it has over our life.  Those who choose not to forgive remain stuck in the past and as a result, they re-live their pain and suffering daily and have no meaningful future.

There is a serious spiritual consequence if we remain in an attitude of un-forgiveness.  We are reminded in Matthew 6:14-15;18:35, Mark 11:25-26, Luke 6:37 if we choose not to forgive, God will not forgive us.  Romans 3:23 clearly states “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”.  This means that every one of us is guilty and in need of God’s forgiveness.    

As a Bible believing Christian, how do we forgive someone?  When I began to study the Bible, it became very evident to me that this was an area that I wanted to resolve if I was to experience a desired relationship with Jesus Christ.  As a result, I read the Bible regarding this topic, in order to find out as much biblical information as possible.  My pastor was also always available for guidance through the study of Holy Scripture.  I had already received conviction that there were people in my life that I had not forgiven due to their past attitudes, words and actions that deeply hurt me.  I questioned God as to how I was going to overcome this situation.  The answer is one that everyone can receive.  In prayer and sincerity, go to the foot of the cross and see Jesus who through His life, crucifixion and resurrection, forgave all of mankind for every past, present or future sin that we could ever commit (it is very sad that many will refuse His gift of love).  As we begin to understand the depth of His suffering and unselfish decision to endure the unspeakable for our benefit, it will become clear that whatever we have experienced in our life pales in comparison.  Our heart (mind) will then be ready to begin the healing process to forgive a person who has injured us. 

When a person has been profoundly hurt, forgiveness may take time.  Although God is aware of all that has taken place during our lifetime and we cannot hide our feelings from Him, we must talk with God about our pain and anger.  As we begin the steps to deal with our situation, this may also include sharing with a close friend who has spiritual wisdom who will listen and offer guidance.  Another avenue for healing is through a safe group environment which is managed by a qualified counselor.

May you choose to look upon each person you encounter through the eyes of Jesus.  He is no respecter of persons and loves everyone equally, freely offering His grace and mercy.  We must leave the judgment of each individual to God and have confidence that He is fair and just.  

If you have questions or wish to discuss this topic further, please contact me at Bibletruths@ptd.net.

Catherine Merrifield

Danville