By Yvonne Ortega
Licensed Substance Abuse Treatment Practioner
Most of us want peace and freedom. A lack of forgiveness can become a stronghold in our lives and leave us in turmoil and shackled to the one we refuse to forgive.
God knew we would endure abuse, deception or some other type of offense, but He commanded us to forgive anyway.
Romans 12:14 and 17 says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.” This doesn’t sound fair or easy to do, but God commands it and will shower us with the grace to do it.
In Mark 11:25, Jesus says, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Jesus didn’t say, “anything except . . .” If we want God to forgive our sins and answer our prayers, we can’t “hold anything against anyone.”
Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” We can’t possibly forgive someone more than God has forgiven us.
Jesus says in Luke 6:37c, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Do we want to be forgiven?
If we don’t forgive those who hurt us, it’s as if we drink poison and expect the other person to die.
When Jesus taught us the perfect prayer in Matthew 6:12, part of that prayer says, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” How much forgiveness do we want?
Forgiveness doesn’t mean the person is off the hook. God says in Hebrews 10:30, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay.”
Forgiveness doesn’t mean we forget what happened. If we forget, we may place ourselves in a dangerous situation. Forgiveness means we don’t dwell on the offense day and night.
Forgiveness is for us. Without forgiveness, we will never experience God’s peace and freedom in Christ. Instead we’ll become bitter people living in bondage and defeat. We choose. Meanwhile those who offended us go on with their lives.
Forgiveness is a process. It’s like an onion with layers of forgiveness to be peeled away. As each memory surfaces, we’ll need to go through the forgiveness process again and again.
We can make a list of every person who hurt us. Next, we can pour out our hearts to God about each offense and the offender. Then we can ask God to help us forgive the person. Our sinful nature wants to hold a grudge and get even. However, if we live by the Spirit, “we will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Galatians 5:16).
We can choose to pray blessings over those on our list. Our blessings will be in direct proportion to our forgiveness of others.
Galatians 5:22: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Copyright © by Yvonne Ortega March 8, 2012
Yvonne Ortega is an eleven-year breast cancer survivor, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Substance Abuse Treatment Practitioner, Clinically Certified Domestic Violence Counselor, and bilingual speaker. She is the author of Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer (Revell) and a contributing author to The Embrace of a Father(Bethany House) and Transformed (Wine Press). She has also been published in several magazines online and hard copy. Her website is http://www.yvonneortega.com/. Her blog on addiction and domestic violence is at http://www.yvonneortega.blogspot.com