One of the things I really struggle with (outside of fear) is forgiveness. I really like to think of myself as a very loving, kind and genuine person so when someone does something to me I can hold a grudge. I used to really pride myself on being so hard hearted because I would never be so foolish as others to let anyone have the chance to harm me again..
I was taught self-preservation from a very young age and always protected my heart like it was the precious gem it was, but the way I went about protecting it had very little to do with God and very much to do with fear (of hurt and rejection) and bitterness (how dare you offend me in that way).
When I gave my life to Christ, I really thought I had overcome this issue. I would be quick to forgive and didn’t really think much about the offense, but what about when someone really hurts you or worse when they don’t apologize at all. What did I do then? Well, that person simply disappeared from my life; now granted there are times when this is totally justifiable AND necessary, but then there are times when it is just me wanting that person to pay for the damage they caused. But to be honest with you; even if someone apologizes it doesn’t always set you free, because you still have to choose forgiveness. It is all about choice.
I was privileged to listen to a man speak about this very subject the other day, Lorenzo Brown was shot and paralyzed by a friend at 17; grew up with a mother addicted to substances and had a broken relationship with his father. One of those incidents could have left him bitter and filled with unforgiveness, but he chose to forgive each person for everything. Some asked for forgiveness and others didn’t. Many of the parties did not deserve forgiveness. The power of his testimony is that he felt God told him to forgive and when he did; he felt free. See the truth is unforgiveness only holds you captive. His closing words still echo in my ear- “Only Christ can free the Offender; and offended at the same time”.
I’m moving to living a life of forgiveness whether or not relationships are reestablished I will leave up to God, but I will be obedient to this task.
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord.20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.