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We are 7 days away from the release of Tea for Two: A 30 Day Devotional!!!! Pre-order your copy now!
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Forgiveness. A simple word, yet such a challenge for most of us to live out. When someone hurts us, the furthest thing from our mind in that moment is forgiving them. We’re focused on the fact that someone wronged us, focused on how horrible we feel right then. But once those emotions subside, what is our next move? Do we forgive or hold a grudge?
You see, I have much experience with learning to forgive. From having a man hurt me in one of the worst ways possible to being rejected and mistreated by those I loved most, I have had to learn to forgive over the years. In the beginning, I opted not to forgive. I would try to rationalize with God saying things like, “But Lord, he hurt me in the worst possible way. I can’t forgive him for that. He doesn’t deserve my forgiveness!”. Every time I spoke those words, God would respond, “But beloved, I have forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32 (ESV) tells us “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” God’s reason for responding that He has forgiven me was so that I could be like Him. As Christians, we are called to be like our Father in Heaven. Although God was reminding me to be like Him and forgive those who hurt me, I refused to listen in the beginning.
By holding onto the hurts of my past instead of walking in forgiveness, I became bitter and my heart started to harden. I had a nasty attitude, I didn’t show mercy to anyone, I tried to keep to myself as much as possible, and I kept a wall up around me and my heart. Not only did this make it hard for me to connect with others, it also made it hard for me to connect with God. I let the hurt and unforgiveness consume my heart to the point that all I could see were my past hurts. I would expect people to hurt me so my goal was to keep them at a distance so I wouldn’t get hurt. The worst part was that I was completely unaware of how the unforgiveness in my heart was affecting me. I didn’t see myself as bitter, I saw myself as wise since I was preventing others from hurting me. Although God told me I needed to forgive just like He continuously forgives me, I felt that I had the right to not forgive those who wronged me.
I didn’t realize that something was wrong until I noticed that I no longer had any friends. I was literally by myself. I said to God, “Lord, why haven’t you brought me any godly friends? Why am I so alone?” God responded, “I did bring you godly friends, but because you could not forgive so that I could begin healing you of your past hurts, you shut them out. You didn’t give them a chance to get to know the real you. You held them at a distance, which kept those friendships from developing.” I was so heartbroken when He told me that. It was truly an eye opener.
When we refuse to forgive others for hurting us, we open up a door for the enemy to come into our lives. He will take that unforgiveness in our hearts and will have a field day with it. What’s even worse is that he will make us blind to the consequences of our decision to hold onto unforgiveness. This is why God tells us to forgive. Forgiveness isn’t just for the person that hurt you. It’s mostly for you in that it’s the first step in setting you free from your past hurts. God can’t begin to heal you of what that person has done to you until you take the first step by forgiving them. Also, when we don’t forgive, God can’t forgive us. Matthew 6:15 (ESV) “But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” If we aren’t willing to extend forgiveness, how can we expect to receive forgiveness? We need God’s forgiveness more than anything. Romans 6:23 (ESV) tells us that “the wages of sin is death…” and Isaiah 59:2 (ESV) tells us “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” When we sin, we are separated from God and in order to be made right with God again, we have to repent and be forgiven by God. If we are unwilling to forgive others, God is not going to extend us forgiveness, which we so desperately need.
After God gave me that revelation, I told Him that I was ready to forgive so that He can heal me. He led me to go to a few of the people that hurt me and let them know that I had forgiven them as well as ask them to forgive me for harboring so much anger in my heart towards them. A few of them were truly blessed by this because they felt horrible about the mistakes they made. It was a blessing because we were able to receive closure over the situation. This will not always be the case. There will be times when there is no reconciliation. There will be times when people will stand their ground in saying they did not do anything wrong and that you should have nothing to be upset with them about. Despite all of that, you must do your part and God will honor that.
Although I had gone to those individuals and told them I forgave them, I did not immediately feel better. It has taken time for God to heal me of all my past hurts. In the beginning when I thought of those who hurt me, I would feel some kind of way. But as I continued to confess that I had forgiven those individuals who hurt me and trust God to heal my heart, little by little I wouldn’t feel angry when I thought of them or heard their name. Little by little I was even able to pray for them. And finally, I got to the point where I was able to see those individuals through God’s eyes. My heart even broke for them because I knew that someone had to hurt them badly in order for them to hurt me in such a way. If I had listened in the beginning and started walking in forgiveness, it may have not taken as long as it did for God to heal my heart.
After living a life of withholding forgiveness, I truly believe forgiveness is necessary for each and everyone of us. I don’t ever want to go back to being that bitter, miserable person I once was. I wasn’t happy. I didn’t have joy or peace. I was lonely. Most importantly, I couldn’t grow into the woman God had called me to be. I couldn’t even begin to go further in my relationship with Him. When it comes to forgiving others, we have to remember that not one of us is perfect. Just like it says in Romans 3:23 (ESV), “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”. We all mess up on a daily basis and we want God to forgive us and show us mercy, so we need to do the same. Yes, some hurts are worse than others; however, we still need to forgive.
Just a couple of days ago, the Lord ministered something powerful to me about the beauty of forgiveness. I had asked someone to do a favor for me and they had agreed to do it. It was very important because it was related to an assignment for one of my classes. I was truly counting on this person and all of sudden they started ignoring me without giving me an explanation. I contacted them and got no response. I didn’t get angry nor did I feel any malice towards them. I instantly forgave them in my heart. Now if that had been the old me, I would’ve been angry, wouldn’t have even considered forgiving the person, and made the situation worse than what it actually was. I didn’t respond that way. God ministered to me that,
“As you forgive more and more, walking in forgiveness becomes easier. It will eventually get to the point that forgiveness is an automatic response.”
Now that I think about how far God has brought me, I can honestly say that it is truly easy for me to forgive. When someone wrongs me, I’m not quick to get angry or hold a grudge. I forgive the person, pray about it, and ask God for guidance on how He wants me to handle it. Sometimes He has me go to that person to bring it to their attention because they were not aware of how their words or actions hurt me. Other times He will convict that person and they will come to me and apologize. Sometimes there is no resolution, but God guards my heart from bitterness and helps me to let it go instead of holding a grudge. That’s the beauty of having such a close relationship with God. He knows the details of everything, He’s able to see the overall picture, and He will work things out for you if you go to Him and trust Him to do so.
I want to leave you with this, if there is someone that you have yet to forgive, forgive them and ask God to heal your heart of the pain that person inflicted. You will feel so much better. Your demeanor will change, your relationship with God will change, a weight will be lifted off of your shoulders, and God will be able to start doing some great things in your life. So unlock that cage you have placed every person that has hurt you in and set them free. Praying for you all. Be blessed!
Hey everyone I had the honor of being featured on the site MySpiritChecker.com! God led the owner of the site to have me write a blog on the power of forgiveness and the consequences of unforgiveness. I prayed over it and God gave me an amazing word to share with you all. Go check it out and be sure to subscribe to MySpiritChecker.com so that you can get his newest blogs sent directly to your email.
Hey guys! God put it on my heart to share my testimony. Some things have happened in my life within the last 1-2 years that most aren’t aware of. God delivered me from some things and has been doing some great things in my life. I broke the video down into two parts or else it would’ve been way too long. I was hesitant about posting the second part because I share some personal things that I went through in 2013-2014 and made some mistakes that I’ve just now been able to forgive myself of. I was worried that those who know me and know what I stand for were going to judge me, but God asked me, “Are you doing this for man’s approval or for my glory?” Since I’m doing it for God’s glory, it honestly doesn’t matter what man thinks of me. With all that said, please keep any negative or judgmental comments to yourself. I pray that this blesses you and ministers to you. God bless!
(Originally Posted June 26, 2013)
You know that sibling in Christ who only text you when they need something or they’re having some kind of crisis? Or maybe it’s that sibling in Christ who is always competing with you or trying to outdo you? Or that sibling in Christ that has nothing nice to say and acts like a Negative Nancy? Or what about that sibling in Christ who can tell you everything that is wrong with you, but has yet to shine a magnifying glass on their own mess of a life? Or maybe that sibling in Christ who failed to keep their word to you once again?
I’m pretty sure we’ve all had experiences with our siblings in Christ similar to these. So what do we do when our sibling in Christ does us wrong? Do we do as Christ says in Matthew 5:39 and turn the other cheek or do we hold a grudge and plot our retaliation? Do we say that we forgive them, but every time we see them we give them the cold shoulder? Or do we keep silent and let our anger boil?
Before I get into what we’re supposed to do, let me say this: From my personal experience, it hurts much more and angers me much more when a fellow Christian does me wrong in comparison to a nonbeliever. I’m not sure about y’all, but I get hot when my brother or sister in Christ mistreats me. Why? I believe it’s the expectation. I mean I don’t expect much from the world. My thinking is this “You have Jesus Christ living in you so you shouldn’t be mistreating me like this!” I have to remind myself that even though we have Jesus living inside of us, we still have a messed up, jacked up flesh that is weak and sinful.
“…The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
So, once again, what do we do when our siblings in Christ hurt us?
Confront them! Lovingly, of course.
“15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
Confrontations are never easy and are extremely uncomfortable, but they are a must. Confrontations can go 1 of 2 ways.
1. They can go smoothly and the person you’re confronting takes what you say to heart immediately. A lot of times people don’t even realize that they’ve done something wrong and just simply need it brought to their attention.
2. They can be rough. The person can reject everything you say and will likely be angry with you. However, if they are truly in the wrong and they have a true relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit will convict them and they will realize the error of their ways. If they don’t, you can do like Matthew 18:16 says and confront them amongst a couple of other Christians who can help serve as mediators. And if that still doesn’t work, all you can do is give them to God.
The main thing is that you confront your brothers and sisters in Christ when they hurt you.
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger”.
Don’t hold on to that anger and let it fester or you will end up sinning too. That anger will turn into bitterness and resentment, which will just make the situation worse.
“The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.”
Bitterness and joy don’t mix. If you’re bitter, you can’t have joy. So pretty much, if you hold on to the hurt of what someone did to you and let it turn into bitterness, your life will lack joy. Is it really worth it?
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
So in addition to a lack of joy, you will be sinning against God since He says specifically in His word to put away bitterness. So let’s break this down: First you’re angry with the person and let that anger fester. Sin! Then you’re bitter. Another sin! Then, more than likely, you’re probably bad mouthing and slandering that person. Sin! So, in a nutshell, you have done all this sinning just because you refused to confront your sibling in Christ. Is it really worth it?
We don’t want to sin so let’s talk about confronting your sibling in Christ.
When confronting them, please, please, please remember that this is not an opportunity for you to give them a piece of your mind, go off, or tell them about themselves. No, it’s not. Even when confronting our siblings in Christ, we must do it in love. Yes, address the issue, but don’t take this as an opportunity to bring up every single mistake they’ve made or put a guilt trip on them. When confronting them, focus on the facts: what they did wrong and how that made you feel. Avoid using “you” statements as much as possible, “I” statements work best. Be aware of your tone; don’t be condescending or condemning. And please, please, please remember that once you hash it out, that’s it. Don’t bring it up 2 weeks, 2 months, or 5 years from now. Once you deal with it, that’s it. We need to take the same approach that God does with us when we sin against Him and we ask for forgiveness.
“He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”
Once we ask God for forgiveness, He takes our sins and throws them into the bottom of the sea and that’s it. He forgets all about them. God doesn’t bring up those sins and throws them back in our face.
Now for the next step: forgive! After confronting your sibling in Christ, you must forgive them! Yes, this is much easier said than done, but it’s necessary.
“14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
We forgive because God forgives us. We all sin against God everyday and need His forgiveness constantly. But if we don’t forgive, how can we expect God to forgive us? We can’t expect Him to be merciful to us if we can’t show mercy to others. With forgiveness, more often than not, it must be an act of faith. You may not feel like you forgive them, but living out that forgiveness is a huge step. By living out that forgiveness I mean walking in love towards them, being kind and cordial when you see them, not getting angry or having something negative to say whenever you hear their name…when you step out on faith and act out that forgiveness, God will eventually line your feelings up with your actions.
I know I’m probably beating a dead horse with this topic, but there is too much strife and unforgiveness amongst the body of Christ. Christians not talking to one another…holding grudges…it has to stop. Think about this: You are going to spend eternity, yes eternity, with these people so you better get it right now or you will have to deal with it when you get to heaven and, trust me, God will not accept any excuses.