Forgiveness is a liberating, loving act and attitude we must have. It frees you from the hurt someone caused you. It is healthy and brings peace. Proverbs 19:11 says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” Some of the best advice I could ever give you is to let that offense go, no matter how bad it was. “But they didn’t say they were sorry!” That’s the beauty of forgiveness – they don’t have to in order for you to receive freedom from hurt, bitterness, and anger. Just let it go and choose not to let them have any more control over your life and emotions.
Unforgiveness will lead to vengeance. Getting even with someone has a high price that most of us, in hindsight, would never pay. Unforgiveness imprisons you in your past, holding you hostage from the life you want now and in the future. As long as you are unwilling to forgive, you will be shackled to that person who hurt you. Their one time act, whether intentional or not, can hold you captive for a lifetime – if you let it. Let’s say what they did or said lasted one minute. Yes it was wrong but now that wrong has reached out further than that one minute boundary and has stolen ten years of your life. Their act hasn’t consumed you for ten years – your unforgiveness has. Now it’s all you think and talk about. Hate and vengeance has fed your unforgiveness and now you have created and nurtured a monster to which you are enslaved.
Unforgiveness is like a sore. It started out as a small, non-life threatening injury. But you’ve continued to pick at the scab and reject healing. You’ve enlarged it and opened yourself up to infection. Now your sore has spread and you feel worse than when you started. Choosing not to forgive is choosing to love hate. Unforgiveness spreads like a cancer. It produces bitterness which dominates thinking and creates anger. Anger produces offense and soon spirals out of control and sparks thoughts of revenge. Now, you are vengeful and begin to close off from other relationships to avoid future hurt. Soon, all this will lead to lies, slander, and even profanity.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! Forgiveness frees you! It takes the weight off and liberates you to enjoy life, live in peace, and engage relationships. Scripture promotes forgiveness because it is a cool, refreshing, life-giving drink to a parched, weary, dehydrated soul. There are at least 70 pictures of forgiveness in Scripture. These figures of speech show us the beauty and benefit of forgiveness.
Forgiving is like opening the cell door and releasing the prisoner. Forgiveness is like writing “Paid in Full” over a debt. Forgiveness is like shooting an arrow so far it can never be found again. Forgiveness is like taking out the trash as to leave one’s house clean. Forgiveness is releasing an anchor so the ship can sail. To forgive is to turn the key, open the cell door and let the prisoner free. Forgiveness is like pardoning a criminal. Forgiveness is like sandblasting a wall of graffiti, leaving it sparkling and clean. Forgiveness is like smashing a pot into many pieces so it can never be assembled again.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean overlooking abuse, letting someone walk all over you, approving of evil, or even pretending hurt never happened. It doesn’t always mean reconciliation can happen again. It just means you can be free. Forgiveness brings life, health, and freedom. Jesus forgave us from the most horrible, wretched sin imaginable. He died for our sins even when we didn’t want or deserve it. The greatest reason to forgive is because Jesus forgave us from so much.