“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” Hebrews 12:15
President Kim Dae Jung’s first act after being elected as the president of South Korea in 1998 was to publicly pardon the former generals who had sentenced him to death as an opposition leader. “Only the truly magnanimous and strong,” wrote Mr. Kim in a letter to his son, “are capable of forgiving and loving.” He understood forgiveness.
Anger, a natural part of the grieving process, takes place when we experience a loss. It becomes a problem when it is left unresolved, mushrooms into resentment, and finally into full blown bitterness. Unforgiveness is a byproduct of unresolved anger. If left unchecked it is a very destructive force. It will hamper your relationships; it will stifle your walk with God rendering you incapable of authentic service to Him. Left unchecked it will turn you into a bitter person – ultimately it will destroy you.
When we are accidentally injured, we excuse the offense. When we are hurt (there is someone we “blame”) we are presented with a choice: to forgive or not to forgive. To allow unforgiveness to go unchallenged, presents a vulnerability to Satan which he is more than happy to exploit.
Forgiveness begins with a choice. Then, once that decision has been made, we lean really, really hard on God to give us the grace to see it through. I know exactly where I was when God said (regarding my ex-husband), “It’s time to forgive.” And I remember my response quite well, “I will not forgive. I have a right to feel the way I do.”
God’s Grace and the Holy Spirit
Periodically, over the next couple of months, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and always the message was the same, “It’s time to forgive.” I went from an adamant, “I will NOT!” to, “I don’t think I can.” The Holy Spirit did not scold; He gently pursued. One day my response was, “All right. I don’t feel it in my heart, but with my will I choose to forgive. Please, in time, let the feelings come.” Was it easy? No. Forgiveness was for me more than for him. As long as there was animosity in my heart, he held a power over me that was not his to hold.
In this matter of spiritual warfare, as long as we are in sick bay, rather than on the front lines, we are ineffective. To fight the good fight requires wholeness. Wholeness comes only as we present our woundedness to God for healing. Do you need to be healed?
Prayer: “Father, help me to give up my right to get even when another has wronged me. Replace my bitterness and anger with a greater concern for the offender than I had before the offense. Help me to love my offender with Your love. Help me to forgive.”