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Who Do You Need to Forgive?

 Unforgiveness is like drinking poison yourself and waiting for the other person to die.  - Marianne Williamson

There is absolutely nothing positive about unforgiveness. It is at the very foundation of many of the continuing struggles that we face on earth. Millions upon millions of people have died because of the unwillingness to forgive.


This blog post is part 14 of the series Eight Steps to Experiencing His Victory

Whether it be on the small-scale feud of the Hatfields and McCoys where a dozen people died and ten were wounded; the national-level genocide by the Hutus in Rwanda killing an estimated 500,000 to 1 million Tutsi, or the global-scale destruction of 50-80 million soldiers and civilians killed in World War II; you’ll find unforgiveness at the root of each situation.

Unforgiveness truly is a poison. It not only harms you when you drink it but everyone who comes in contact with you. Unforgiveness contaminates your heart and taints everything that it touches.

Since I’ve already written seven posts on the topic of forgiveness (you can find them at posts 36-42), i have decided to quote the thoughts of others on the topic and add my two cents to theirs.

Forgiveness Opens New Possibilities for the Future

"Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future." - Louis B. Smedes

It’s true when we forgive we don’t forget what took place in our lives. It no longer has a hold on us or affects us negatively because we are healed. A healed person can remember the event and experience no pain.

"Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future." - Paul Boese

When we forgive it allows us to move past the painful situation and expand into a new future. A future without pain, bitterness, or dismay. Thank God that He makes a way for us to be healed and grow in His grace.

“Yesterday does not have to shape your tomorrow.” Terry L. Tuinder

Forgiveness Frees Us From Those Who Hurt Us

"When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free." - Katherine Ponder

You may not think of it this way but you are definitely connected with the person through an invisible bond when you refuse to forgive them. Every time you think about the situation you dwell upon the one that hurt you.

The concept behind forgiveness is letting loose. You let the person who hurt you loose by forgiving them. You no longer hang on to the rope that binds you to them. Instead, you release them and let them go remembering that God is the one who will righteously judge them.

"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." - Louis B. Smedes

Unforgiveness does hold us in bondage. It allows many negative emotions to dwell in our hearts. Unforgiveness keeps us bound to anger, judgment, revenge, pain, and suffering. When you truly forgive a person from the heart there is such a release of life.

The Closer They Are the Harder It Is

"It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend." - William Blake

The closer a person is to you the more they can hurt you. That’s because those who are the closest to you have the greatest potential to hurt you. It is easier to be rejected by an acquaintance than it is to be rejected by a spouse or a parent.

"Without forgiveness life is governed by... an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation." - Roberto Assagioli

Forgiveness must start with you. You cannot wait for a person to come and ask forgiveness before you release them. Some people will never come and seek forgiveness.

Forgiveness is Tough to Give

Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness. Marianne Williamson

It is extremely hard to forgive. It takes strength, courage, and faith. It is especially difficult when we think that the person is getting away with it or that what happened was not important and wrong.

It may be difficult but God is there to help you. He will give you strength. If you choose to do things His way, He will be there to give you everything you need to carry out His will.

I learned a long time ago that some people would rather die than forgive. It's a strange truth, but forgiveness is a painful and difficult process. It's not something that happens overnight. It's an evolution of the heart. Sue Monk Kidd

You can forgive. I know you can. It may be hard but God does not ask us to do things that we cannot do. He asks us to forgive and release those who have sinned against us. Here are a few of many verses that speak about forgiveness:

12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. (Colossians 3:12-13)

21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22)

25 Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. (Mark 11:25)

If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done. (Matthew 6:14-15)

Forgiveness is Like a Breath of Fresh Air

Because forgiveness is like this: a room can be dank because you have closed the windows, you've closed the curtains. But the sun is shining outside, and the air is fresh outside. In order to get that fresh air, you have to get up and open the window and draw the curtains apart. - Desmund Tutu 

Are you ready for a breath of fresh air in your life and walk with God? Then make the choice to forgive. If there is someone in your life that you know you haven't forgiven and been placing the issue on the back burner, now is the time to deal with it.

Why allow the poison of unforgiveness to flow through your veins tainting every part of your life? Choose to be a forgiving person. Choose to do it God’s way. Choose life.

How to Forgive

I suggest that when you forgive don't forgive generically.  When you choose to forgive a person, forgive specific acts they have done to you. Instead of saying, “Jesus, I choose to forgive my dad.” Say something like, “Jesus, I choose to forgive my dad for abandoning my family through divorce. I forgive him for missing all my sporting events and not being around when I needed him.”

Make sure to set aside enough time to deal with the issue completely. If you forgive your dad, take time and make sure you forgive him for everything the Lord helps bring to your mind. If you miss something and it comes up later, then choose to forgive him for that offense.

Once you have forgiven all you can think of, ask the Lord to come and heal any wounds you received through any of the things you forgave. Then thank the Lord for His kindness and help in doing what you just did.

Oh, yeah. Don't forget to breathe in the fresh air and bask in His sunlight.

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About the Author

Terry Tuinder is the co-founder of Experiencing His Victory. His experience includes thirty-one years of pastoral ministry, an earned Doctor of Ministry degree from The King's University, and nineteen years involvement in deliverance ministry. He helps people grow in their relationship with God.