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One of the most frequent issues I deal with as a pastor is the issue of forgiveness. There is so much hurt among people and the tendency is to bottle it up in an unforgiving spirit. It would be easier to hold a grudge, but Scripture is clear we have an obligation to forgive…just as we have been forgiven.

Whenever I address this issue, I get push back from those who say they can’t get over what was done to them. I remind them that the Bible doesn’t say we must forget, but to forgive. There’s a huge difference. It doesn’t even say we should allow forgiveness to be an open door for continued abuse by someone. The goal is to free our hearts by letting go of the anger, bitterness, and frustration with the person who wronged you.

This is not only because God commanded it, but practically speaking, the emotions brought on by failing to forgive begin to control you and serve no purpose to repair the relationship or you. Holding onto the pain certainly doesn’t teach the other person a lesson or make them a better person. Of course, when the other person keeps causing new injury it makes it even tougher, but it doesn’t release us from an obligation to forgive.

Forgiveness brings much to a person’s life:

It frees you from the emotional weight of the pain. It doesn’t take the pain away, but it releases the hold those emotions continue to have on your heart. Holding bitterness too tightly causes a range of negative emotions and even causes physical stress to  a person.

Gives an earthly picture of grace. Most of the time there is no earthly or rational reason to forgive. Forgiveness gives something that is mostly undeserved. What a picture of God’s grace!

Helps you sleep better at night. The emotional weight of an injury is often heavier than the actual injury and takes longer to heal. When a person forgives another, it feels as though pressure is released from one’s shoulders. Forgiving people have less stress and more joy, regardless of the pain in their life.

I know the subject of offering forgiveness causes some to cringe. It feels like a risk too big to take. When you forgive, it feels you are inviting further injury. Forgiveness can be abused.

I wonder if Christ ever feels likewise…

Whom do you need to forgive?

For additional thoughts on forgiveness, read:

The Blessing of Offering Forgiveness

8 Reminders for Granting Forgiveness

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 15 Comments

  • shaili says:

    getting close to god., that is the main thing i see in forgiving

  • jacinta Byers says:

    forgiveness is like a remedy that is what healed me

  • Nii Noi Annan says:

    Forgiveness builds your confidence in life and strengthens your relationship with God and other people

  • DWilliams says:

    One of the best things I have heard- "Forgiving someone is like setting the prisoner free and then realizing that you were the prisoner." In my experience much forgiveness involves an irresponsible person who won't acknowledge the damage they caused. If the person is family, your story is tied to theirs through shared history and shared relatives. You can't abandon them without abandoning your family.

  • Eddie says:

    Some wounds are deep and painful, but forgiveness is so neccesary. It took me a very long time to forgive my mother for verbal, emotional, physical, and psychological abuse during my childhood. I knew I always needed to forgive, but I wanted to be mad at her. I realized that was continuing to fuel my rage and anger, and I was becoming more violent.

    I finally decided to forgive her, I didn't do it for her, but I did it for myself. Our relationship is still estranged, but I have Peace !! She no longer has that amount od power over me, and I also removed that foothold the Devil had, for many years. Stress shortens life, Forgiveness can lengthen your days ……………

  • Forgiveness makes you have a peaceful relationship with God. But, when there is enemity, it is difficult to pray and have fellowsip with God.

  • ronedmondson says:

    That's good Laurinda. I agree.

  • Cindy Graves says:

    Perfect post!

    I read on Twitter a few weeks ago…"Forgiveness doesn't mean what they did was okay. Forgiveness means waht they did won't hold you in prison anymore."

  • Laurinda says:

    For years, I struggled with unforgiveness only because I confused forgiveness for reconciliation. Once I understood that forgiveness did not mean improper boundaries, it became easier. I think people need to understand that reconciliation is different and requires an action by the other person involved. But forgiveness is a choice we can make regardless of the other party. I had to do this with my parents.

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