Guilt and bitterness can have a crippling effect on any individual. Several years ago, I read a medical report that stated many people occupying hospital beds could go home perfectly well if they would just learn to forgive. How many times has someone said or done something that hurt us, and they may not have even realized they did it, but we nursed the hurt and decided we wouldn’t forgive them? Who did we really hurt?
Ourselves — certainly not the other person.
We have just been reminded of Christ’s suffering, crucifixion and resurrection. All of that took place because God loves us and wants to forgive us of our sin and guilt. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” All of us are guilty of sin and sinning against God, but instead of hating us and wanting to get even with us, He loves us and wants to forgive us. Paul, in Romans 6:23, wrote, “For the wages of sin is death (physical and spiritual) BUT, the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our LORD.
Don Wilton, who was Billy Graham’s pastor, wrote, “The need for forgiveness is one of the deepest needs of the human heart. Forgiveness is a result of God’s miraculous grace. Forgiveness takes us straight to the cross of Christ, where we can be absolutely certain that you are forgiven of your sins. But it doesn’t stop there. A right relationship with God sets the stage for a right relationship with every other person in your life.” Isn’t that great news!
The Psalmist wrote, “If You, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O LORD, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore, you are feared.”
One of the most powerful verses in all of Scripture is 2 Chronicles 7:14, “…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
In Nehemiah 9:17, we read, “They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles You performed among them. They became stiff-necked and, in their rebellion, appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore, You did not desert them.”
You would think that after awhile God would get tired of all of man’s sin, stubbornness and scoffing and say, “I have had it, you have gone too far. You are toast”, But no, He holds out to the very end, hoping we will humble ourselves, repent of our sins, turn to Him and be forgiven and be healed. Listen to the words of the Apostle Peter who, at one point, denied three times that he even knew Jesus.
“The LORD is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
On the cross, in the midst of His indescribable pain and suffering, with the crushing weight of the sins of the world laid on Him, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing …” (Luke 23:34)
What are we to do as Christ-followers? I love what Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:30-32, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Don’t miss that last statement — “forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Are you willing to relieve the pressure in your heart by extending the grace of forgiveness to others in your life? Will you, with a heart full of joy because God has forgiven you, do the same for others? The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
Allow the love of God, flowing into your heart, by the power of the Holy Spirit, flush all bitterness and hurt out of your heart. Do it for the glory of God. In Romans 5:5, the Apostle Paul wrote, “And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”
I want to close with one more passage of scripture. It is Colossians 2:13-15,
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
Listen to me precious friend, Christ cancelled our sin and nailed it to the cross. That is the power of the cross. How can we not let go of the past when God’s truth is so clear? How can we refuse to forgive others when the very nature of God is to forgive all sin?
Is there someone that you need to extend grace and forgiveness to? It could even be yourself. Or, it could be someone who has hurt you in a deep way. Ask the LORD to show you what to do. Then, take the appropriate steps of forgiving yourself and forgiving others. The Holy Spirit will guide you because what you are doing is God honoring and liberating. As you do, as the Spirit prompts you, you will experience true freedom in your heart and a wonderful peace will flow over you more wonderful than you have never experienced before.
Welcome to the pleasant journey of forgiveness.
From one forgiven,