The worst pain we have felt in life is often caused by other people and as a Christian, it took me a while to understand and accept why we need to forgive those who hurt us.
Forgiving those who hurt me was never an easy thing to do; it always took a while after going through the torture of anger, bitterness, loss of appetite, malice, sleepless nights, and frustration before I could gradually bring myself to forgive.
Can you imagine the combination of negative emotions involved with unforgiveness?…It is detrimental to our physical and mental health.
Sometimes it takes the worst to bring out the best in us and I can say that was true for me because it took my worst pain and hurt to finally set me free from the poison of unforgiveness.
On my path to freedom from unforgiveness, one of the things that helped me was the realization and acceptance of the fact that people will not always do things the way we want them to, and sometimes the reason we get upset with people is because of our high expectations of them.
I also resolved that I was going to guard my emotions and not let the behaviour of others change who I was becoming through Christ.
The truth is we should never give anyone the power over our joy and happiness because there will always be people around us who will try to hurt us either with their words, deeds or silence and if we give in to them, our emotions will be tossed from one end to the other.
Honestly, I can say I have not hit perfection when it comes to avoiding strife and unforgiveness but I can say I am far better than who I used to be and I can now say forgiveness comes easily to me.
HOW I GOT TO THE PLACE OF FORGIVING EASILY
Unforgiveness and strife are not worth the attention and the power we give to it and I hope I will be able to convince you with the following reasons that helped me gain freedom from the torture of unforgiveness.
The reasons we need to open our hearts to forgiveness is as follows:
- BECAUSE GOD SAYS SO
Ephesians 4:32 says, ‘’Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’’
Matthew 18:21-22 says, ‘’Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me, up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’’‘
The Bible is filled with scriptures of God commanding us to forgive those who hurt us and obedience to God is the most important thing that opened my heart towards forgiveness.
I was drawn to forgive more easily because of the love I have for God and my resolve to totally submit to Him through obedience.
The love and forgiveness we have received from God cannot be compared to forgiving those who hurt us.
And the truth is, everything that God asks us to do is usually for our own benefit. If you love God you will obey His Word (see John 14:15).
- TO HEAL FROM THE HURT AND BE SET FREE FROM THE TORMENT OF UNFORGIVENESS
Forgiving those who hurt us is for our own good because unforgiveness torments us much more than it torments the people who offended us (i.e. if they are tormented at all).
You get all angry and frustrated, you have sleepless nights and you probably take out your anger on others while the person who offended you would most likely be living happily without a care in the world.
Sometimes people who offend us may not have the slightest idea that they have offended us.
Forgiving others is usually the first step to healing from the hurt they have caused. You do not have to feel like it but just commit yourself to it.
When it comes to forgiveness, most times you need to live beyond your feelings because you may never feel like forgiving.
In one of Joyce Meyer’s teachings on forgiveness, she made a good point by saying you do not need to worry about your feelings in order to forgive because your feelings will always catch up with your decision to forgive if you stay steadfast to your decision.
Once you make the decision to forgive, you gradually begin to feel at peace and get over the hurt.
- TO PREVENT THE DEVIL FROM HAVING ANY FOOTHOLD OVER OUR LIFE
Ephesians 4:26-27 says, ‘’In your anger do not sin, do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.’’
It is ok to get angry when someone offends you but it is not ok to sin in your anger and you are most likely going to sin in your anger if you allow it fester for so long.
The devil gets a foothold by gaining an opportunity to tempt us into sin when we allow our anger fester for so long. Your anger birthed from unforgiveness can quickly turn into hatred which can stir in you a desire for vengeance upon those who hurt you.
I have been guilty of sinning in my anger when someone offended me as I always looked for ways to hurt them back either by saying hurtful things back to them, keeping malice or telling everyone who cared to listen how horrible they were.
Never take revenge for any wrong done to you. Allow God to fight your battles and allow Him to reward everyone according to their actions (see Romans 12:19).
We need to watch carefully because the devil’s foothold can easily become a stronghold if we let him. Unforgiveness is a major way the devil uses to gain grounds in the life of a believer. He uses the sin of unforgiveness to hold us bound.
- TO PREVENT ANY HINDRANCE TO OUR PRAYERS AND COMMUNICATION WITH GOD
Mark 11:25 says, ‘’And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
It is very unlikely to pray freely when you are upset. Unforgiveness keeps you upset and denies you the ability to pray right and enjoy your fellowship with God.
Sometimes the guilt and sin of unforgiveness prevent us from going boldly into the presence of God.
You find favor and obtain mercy from God when you forgive those who hurt you.
- TO GAIN CONTROL OVER OUR EMOTIONS AND MAINTAIN GOOD HEALTH
Like I mentioned earlier we should never give anyone the power to control our emotions. It is also important to be tolerable and not expect people to always do things the way we want them to.
Sometimes people deliberately set out to hurt your feelings but if you are in control of your emotions that will help you have an appropriate reaction to their actions.
But one thing I must draw your attention to is the fact that most times, people who tend to hurt other people are either hurt themselves or going through some tough times.
That is why we should be careful the way we react or judge situations and One of my favorite scriptures that keeps me in check of my emotions especially during heated situations or when I feel offended is James 1:19 which says we should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
Not being easily angered or offended is a virtue everyone should strive to cultivate. It will make the world a better place…I am consciously working on this area of my life and I can see great improvements already.
When emotions run high it could lead to either stress, sleepless nights, unhealthy eating or drinking habits, etc. and all of these are detrimental to our physical and mental health.
PRACTICAL WAYS TO SET YOURSELF FREE FROM THE POWER OF UNFORGIVENESS
- Meditate on God’s Word on forgiveness all through the period you feel offended until you receive the grace to forgive and let go.
- Immediately you feel offended ask for His grace to forgive and not react negatively.
- Live beyond your feelings by praying for those who hurt you. This is the best tool I use to quickly forgive those who hurt me.
Once I start genuinely praying for those who hurt me, forgiveness comes naturally because you cannot be at war with someone you get on your knees and pray for.
- Avoid having conversations on how people have offended you as it would keep it fresh in your mind and make it difficult for you to forgive or forget.
- Avoid saying negative things about the people who offend you and please avoid making it public by talking about it on social media platforms.
So many people make this mistake but we are expected as Christians to try as much as possible to settle issues privately and within ourselves.
If you must speak about it, then do so to a common spiritual leader, friend, or an elderly person known by both parties (see Matthew 18:15-16).
- Open your heart to love people and by doing so, always condition your heart to think the best of everyone because love always trusts, it covers a multitude of sins, it is not easily angered and love keeps no record of wrongdoing (See 1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
The best thing we can do for those who have hurt us is to love them and bless them. It gives you peace and joy and makes you a better witness of Christ’s love.
Sometimes it is so difficult to love certain people from close proximity. If being in close contact or relationship with someone continuously causes strife, loss of peace, the sin of hatred, or threatens your life, then I advise you to stay away from such a relationship as you can safely love that person from afar.
David Amenger Awen wrote, ‘’Love should never die, If a relationship is trying to kill your love, take it and run away.’’ (By the way he is my immediate elder brother).
Never allow the love you have for God, for yourself, or for people to die as a result of constant bitterness, hurt, and strife.
Cast all your cares and burden on the Lord and let Him take care of them all by replacing them with His peace and love (see Matthew 11:28-30).