One of the greatest hindrances for growing healthy relationships, and building unity, is holding on to past offenses and failures. Forgiving others and releasing past hurts and failures is not only beneficial, but also vital for fellowship with God.
Forgiveness doesn’t come easy. For some, the offense is so great that forgiveness is all but impossible. To forgive feels as though we are condoning our offender’s behavior. But in reality, forgiveness relinquishes our wrath toward the person who offended us and allows us to accept the truth that vengeance truly does belong to the Lord.
God’s Word tells us, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as, in Christ, God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32
What incredible grace we have been given through Christ’s death on the cross. All of our past, present, and future sin has been forgiven. Those who receive forgiveness are given a fresh start, a new beginning. Christ is asking us to do no less for others who have offended us.
Oswald Chambers said, “I have never met a person I could despair of, or lose all hope for, after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God.”
Until a person forgives the offenders and the offenses that have affected his or her life, that person can never have peace with others. Forgiveness releases us from the bondage the offender has on us and releases God’s divine healing power in our life, to move into the future without bitterness or regret. The opportunity for reconciliation is restored, and unity with our brother or sister is possible.
The most difficult person to forgive, however, may be you! I’m speaking of forgiving yourself. We have all failed and, in this fallen world, will continue to fail until Christ makes all things new, and we are in His presence. But, if we confess our daily sin, God promises to forgive us and to give us a clean slate for the new day. We must believe He has done so. If we can’t believe this promise, we call into question God’s character, and everything He has told us in the Bible. In other words, we call God a liar! Accept Him at His word, and live with no shame or guilt from the past.
God intends for us to use the lessons learned from our past to help others struggling with the same moral failings, to find forgiveness, healing, and restoration in Christ we have found.
I urge you to seek God’s guidance and power to forgive those who have hurt you, to release yourself from the bondage un-forgiveness holds over you. God will bless you for your obedience. And, forgive yourself for those past failures already covered by the blood of Jesus. Live as the new person you are, because of what Christ has done for you.
“Therefore if anyone in in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Carmen Pate is a Principal with Alliance Ministries. Learn more about building unity within the Body of Christ at www.allianceministries.org