25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your
neighbor, for we are all members of one body.“In your anger do not sin”[d]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 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.
Forgiveness is a topic I have discussed with many clients. It’s a difficult topic to discuss. It comes attached to so many different emotions and past hurts. Something I realized over the years is that forgiveness is so commonly misunderstood and it is perpetuated by those misunderstandings.
Most commonly, people tend to believe that forgiving someone means that
A. It’s letting them off the hook,
B. It means you think whatever they did is “okay” or you condone it,
C. It’s a single-time choice that once you make, you forget whatever happened.
There are many other misconceptions as well, but these seem to be the top 3. To respond to the first one, forgiving doesn’t mean letting them off the hook necessarily. Forgiveness of a debt may mean that the person no longer has to pay the debt, but it doesn’t mean removing all of the consequences of an action.I can forgive my children and not hold their actions against them in the sense that I withhold love, but still stand firm in issuing a time out or removing privileges. I’m still going to show them love while I do that.
Regarding the idea that forgiveness would mean we are condoning what they did or telling them it’s okay, or maybe even inviting them to continue to treat us in the same way – Nope. It’s still important to set healthy boundaries, which is a whole other topic. Again, there are consequences to actions, whether positive or negative. If you have been betrayed by a friend, you can forgive them and continue to show godly love as He has commanded us to do. That doesn’t mean the nature of the relationship goes right back to the way it was before. You may need healthier boundaries with that friend. Forgiving them is saying, “I choose to not let your actions dictate how I respond to you or cause me to withhold God’s love from you. I’m not going to stop treating you like a fellow human being…. but I’m still going to need my house key back.”
Third, it’s really not always just a one-time choice. We may think we have let go, and then when something else has us worn down (think “foothold”), one little thought may pop up. If we dwell on it, we can get that unforgiveness stirred back up again. Think of a Newton’s cradle. If you pick up the ball on the end and drop it to hit the others…. it gets the cycle going again. Back and forth and back and forth. At some point, you have to the ball in place. The enemy is going to be watching those footholds. If we give in to that selfish, hateful thought. If we give in to those self-defeating, self-critical, Moses-at-the-burning-bush thoughts… those become footholds and can let all kinds of other spirits in. A spirit of unforgiveness, a spirit of hatred, a spirit of anger and bitterness….Spirits of anxiety and depression. If those spirits find a way in, they WILL torment you, and they WILL lie to you. Often. Resist them and use the authority given to you by your Heavenly Father to evict them.
Part of the process of finding peace and forgiveness also involves confession and speaking out against the sin of unforgiveness.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
Ladies. There is so much power in the spoken word. I will continue to remind you that God SPOKE the world into existence. Our enemy wants to keep us silent… to move and work like an evil ninja, undetected and unchallenged. Bring attention to the evil ninja!
Is there someone that you have a difficult time forgiving from your past? Or your present for that matter? Maybe it’s not just one person, but a pattern of unforgiveness. What that might look like could be a scowl when you hear someone’s name, or a snarky comment when they are mentioned or you see them.
When I think of unforgiveness, I immediately think of one of my all-time favorite books. The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom. I highly recommend it. In The Hiding Place, Corrie tells the story of how her Dutch family worked with an underground system to protect Jewish people from the Nazis during the Holocaust of World War II.
In the book, she describes how long after the war, she was approached by one of the very guard that was most cruel to her and her sister, who died under his cruel treatment. The man told her that he had become a Christian and asked her for her forgiveness. She said that her initial response was no, and she felt hatred toward him. However, she quickly realized that if she was not willing to forgive him, she did not have forgiveness from God herself.
In scripture, we read a parable about a man on whom his King had pity because he could not repay a huge debt. The man was overjoyed that his debt was gone, but when he encountered another man who owed him a small sum of money, he had him thrown in jail because he couldn’t repay it. When the king heard about it, he was furious. Scripture says he turned the man over to be tormented until he paid back what he owed. It says the Kingdom of Heaven is like this too. Not forgiving others keeps us from being able to accept God’s forgiveness of us. When we are handed over to be tormented, we are giving legal rights to spirits of evil to taunt, manipulate, and otherwise make us miserable. We allow them to plant seeds of doubt, insecurity, fear, anger, depression, and bitterness, among others. We open the floodgates.
Have you ever noticed how when one person is in a bad mood, it can be contagious? Or if you start complaining about one thing, how it can be very easy to get sucked into complaining about everything and get in the habit of being negative? Floodgates. If you dwell on the thought that what that one person did was so horrible and inexcusable to you, human nature’s natural tendency is to find every bit of evidence to support that as possible. Sometimes, we even stretch the facts in our minds to fit our beliefs. We may not even realize we’re doing it. We may not realize just how much we are influenced by those evil spirits … those sneaky evil ninjas tormenting us. We may not realize how much of a habit bitterness and resentment have become.
As one negative thought leads to another, we get puffed up in our pride, continually finding reasons to justify our unforgiveness. But, along with pride, comes insecurity. Along with pride comes fear of what other people think. The bitterness and resentment strengthen yet we cling to our right to be upset because… ‘How dare they.’ We stop treating them like part of the body of Christ. We start acting like they are the only ones who struggle with humanity at times. We forget that there is a spiritual battle happening and they are being used and manipulated as pawns. We forget that we are too if we’re not careful.
It’s easy to get blinded by our unhelpful thinking habits and the influence of evil spirits. Going back to Corrie Ten Boom, when Corrie realized she had that hatred still in her heart and she realized that she could not have forgiveness until she was able to let it go, she allowed the Holy Spirit to do a great work in her. Like the rest of us, she did not have the power of her own volition, but when she made the choice to forgive and let it go, the Holy Spirit filled her with the love she needed in that moment. It wasn’t all on her shoulders. God provides what we need, we just have to take the first step.
I have always heard it said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It truly is self-sabotage. It can have a severely detrimental effect on every area of your wellness.
To review, my challenge to you is to:
1. Understand what forgiveness means and what it doesn’t.
2. Ask God to reveal to you any hate or unforgiveness you may be harboring in your heart.
3. Humble yourself. Just because you have a right to feel insulted or offended,. doesn’t mean you have to exercise that right and dwell there. Sometimes we are offended because of our own pride and not an actual transgression against us. Confess it and lay it down. Close that door.
I look forward to hearing from you in the group. Don’t forget to sign up for the Every Day Incredible Mailing list at EveryDayIncredible.net for freebies, updates, and offers. Check back next week for more thoughts on finding Christ-Centered life balance. I also want to remind you that there are opportunities every day, so make every day incredible!