Have you suffered emotionally and perhaps physically at the hands of others?
Have emotions such as anger, resentment, hate, hostility, bitterness and revenge entered your heart and mind? Have you become filled with an unforgiving spirit?
Unforgiveness can be a hidden disease. It can make you a prisoner within yourself.
The Bible says “If you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will forgive you. If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15, KJV).
That may seem harsh. But why shouldn’t God expect you to forgive those who have offended you, when He has forgiven you of so much?
Choosing to forgive is a choice of your will. When you make that choice your heart is then open and ready for the Lord’s cleansing.
Choosing not to forgive is also a choice of your will. But the door of your heart is then shut and God will not do His cleansing work.
When an unforgiving spirit lives inside you, it isn’t bothering those who have wronged you. They’ve gone on their way. But you are still holding onto something that has taken control of your thoughts, actions, and words. It eats away at you like a poisonous cancer, and you find yourself bound, with no peace. In reality, you are punishing yourself.
But to forgive in your own power is futile, because your heart must first be cleansed of all the things that unforgiveness creates. Only Jesus can make that happen. He laid down His life and shed His blood to give us the gift of salvation and clean up our hearts. Through Him, there is freedom and victory.
God says “Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, KJV). Isn’t rest what we long for when filled with the torture of an unforgiving spirit?
According to 1 John 1:9, ”If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (KJV). So why not invite Christ into your heart? Cast your cares upon Him. Let Him do the cleansing. Let Him take that unforgiving spirit out of your heart and give you a new heart with a forgiving spirit. You could pray a prayer like this: “Lord Jesus, forgive me for bearing a grudge toward the person who has wronged me. Come into my heart, take control of my life. Cleanse me of this unforgiving spirit, and fill me with a forgiving spirit.”
One man who prayed a similar prayer said, “I’ve got peace in my heart, and I’ve got love in my heart for those who have wronged me. One of the greatest possessions I own now is a forgiving heart.” His burden had been surrendered, and freedom was his.
Take a step . . .
Are you harboring an unforgiving spirit? What’s preventing you from letting it go? Remember, your unwillingness to forgive is harming you far more than the person who has made you angry. Give it to God and ask Him to cleanse your heart and free you to experience His love and grace.
This is a summary of Dr. Brandt’s message The Power of Forgiveness.