“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32
Last night in the singles’ group at church, we discussed forgiveness. It was a great lesson that left me thinking.
I am blessed and have been forgiven for my sins through Jesus’ death on the cross. However, as I have shared in other blogs, I have done things that hurt many people. During my “dark years” (the 12 years of depression and acting out due to an extremely difficult loss), I hurt many people. The times in my pain that I attempted suicide was brutal on my friends as well as my family. Yet, all continued to love me.
I did not feel loveable or that I deserved forgiveness. We never deserve forgiveness. I was loved by friends and family and forgiven for my actions. However, my actions were not forgotten. Sometimes, when I am facing a difficult situation, comments and concerns about past behaviors arise from people that walked with me in the “dark years.” Even though they show concern, I am forgiven.
I had a terrible time accepting forgiveness from God. I felt like my suicide attempts were like slapping God in the face for not caring about and trying to destroy His creation, me. It took me years to get past the arrogance of thinking that I was so bad God could not love me. Instead, God wept over my behaviors because He loves me.
Over the years, I have healed and can accept God’s forgiveness and forgive others. I find that when I need to forgive, first, I must pray and ask for help in the forgiveness process. I found that I was living in bondage, and once I could forgive, I was free to live my life and grow as a person. When I was holding all that bitterness, I was unhappy, difficult to be around, and physically sick. Now, I am free! I can love others and the people who have harmed me. I continue to work on forgiveness and loving others.
I have also learned that forgiveness is a process, and it does not happen in five minutes.
I wish I could say I had this issue down to an art, but I can’t. So, in my prayer time, I ask who I need to forgive and begin the process of forgiveness.
There are benefits to forgiveness, freedom, happiness, joy, and much more. The following is a list of the benefits of forgiveness.
Benefits of Forgiveness
· Forgiveness is essential for healthy relationships.
o Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. (Proverbs 17:9)
· When you are forgiven, you experience joy. When you refuse to confess your wrongdoing, you suffer.
o Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night, Your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally, I confessed all my sins to You and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” And You forgave me! All my guilt is gone. (Psalm 32:1-5)
· Forgiveness can change your life.
o “I tell you, her sins — and they are many — have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only a little love.” (Luke 7:47)
· Forgiveness shows us God’s power and mercy and leads us to respect Him in a deeper way.
o LORD, if You kept a record of our sins, who, O LORD, could ever survive? But You offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear You.” (Psalm 130:3-4)
· It’s better to confess and receive forgiveness than to try to cover up your wrongdoings.
o People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)
· It’s important to forgive for your own sake so that bitterness doesn’t take root in your life.
o Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. (Hebrews 12:14-15)
If you want more information on forgiveness, check out the following article: https://www.cru.org/us/en/train-and-grow/spiritual-growth/forgiveness-scriptures.html
I encourage you to explore forgiving yourself and others. Live life without bitterness.
Have a great day!