Forgiveness is such an important topic in our Christian faith. In fact, it’s one of the pillars of our faith. When Jesus hung on the Cross, his death achieved forgiveness of our sins as well as reconciliation with and restoration to God.
But even though we have been so immensely forgiven why is it hard for us to forgive those who hurt us? Why do we harbor so much bitterness and resentment towards those who wrong us?
A few months ago I sat down with a fellow brother in Christ to discuss the topic of forgiveness. I pray this powerful testimony full of golden, Spirit-filled wisdom will encourage you to dig inside your heart and identify those who hurt you and begin the journey of forgiveness.
Here we go!
1. Tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been a Christian
I am a male, 37 years of age and have been walking with Jesus for 8 years. Before that I was born again around the age of seven (I was born in church) and was Spirit filled around that same time.
However, like most Christians I was a church goer, who neither knew who I was worshiping & neither tried to know Him either.
At the age of 29 was my first encounter with God Almighty and his power, an event that changed the trajectory of my life.
2. What does the word forgiveness mean to you?
Forgiveness means, laying your life for others. As the Holy Spirit gave us Jesus as a prototype of the kind of love that would be deposited in us (Romans 5:5), he then defined it for us in 1 John 3:16. That, “just as our Lord Jesus laid down his life for us, we ought to live a life that daily lays itself for others”.
Unless we do not take account of wrongs done against us, unless we refuse to hold malice, resentment, bitterness or fret against others, we have a problem of unforgiveness (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
This will manifest itself in evil speaking, slighting, back biting, whisperings, gossiping and other acts wittingly and unwittingly aimed against others.
The greatest damage is to our spiritual lives as we will carry a heaviness in our spirits such that we cannot discern the Holy Spirit in the finer details of life.
Our spiritual vision goes dimer as we become undiscerning and ultimately we become religious, neither experiencing God or his power because we do not have a free spirit.
Worse, we become susceptible to deception by the enemy as our spiritual vision has become dimmer.
It takes a free spirit to experience God, and to operate in the realms of faith in the kingdom of God, which is a Spiritual Kingdom. It is why after our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the wonderful teaching on faith, in Mark 11:22-26, verses 25 and 26, the Lord Jesus emphasized to us the importance of forgiveness as it is not possible for your faith to work if you have unforgiveness in your hearts.
Finally, to put it all together “Forgiveness is keeping a free spirit”.
3. Tell us about a time you had to forgive someone. What happened, how were you hurt and when did you forgive the person?
I want to talk about the greatest trial I faced in my Christian walk because I can guarantee you that as long as you set your heart to mature in Christ, you are going to experience something similar.
We must understand that offense is satan’s secret weapon and if not handled appropriately you will miss entire seasons of your spiritual walk and the devil will plant all sorts of sickness and disease in your body unbeknownst to you.
As a young preacher full of zeal but with no experience at all, I naturally offended everyone whether through the message I preached or through immaturity of character. So right out the gate, I accumulated a wonderful bevy of adversaries, who were determined to stop me, if not to outrightly destroy me.
In my ignorance, with little wisdom, the Holy Spirit was very vigilant to protect me and to shield me from many enemies as the Word began to form within me.
You see, as long as unbelievers, strangers, and religious people were after me, it never much bothered me as I was led right from the beginning to meditate regularly on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. As a result, I leaned to live a life of forgiveness right then in 2011, when I started preaching.
Around my second-year walking with Christ, I greatly displeased my Church leaders at that time, such that they began to denounce me fervently. I want every child of God to see this, that as long as people outside of my fellowship were against me, it never much affected me but this time around it was different.
These were my spiritual elders, those I looked up to, of the household of God; it hurt and it hurt bad. I want you to learn an important lesson from my experience because this is where most Christians miss it, so please listen carefully.
I had already had been meditating on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 for two years and the Word of God on love was in my heart; so, I immediately did what children of God are supposed to do. I forgave them and immediately, I started confessing the Word against any thought or inclination against them, but Boy oh! Boy, I had no clue what I had come-up against and I believe everyone who is serious about Jesus needs to learn this.
Even though I forgave as quickly as possible, I still had to fight a root of bitterness that had set in from the time I was a child; and this is where we miss it in the body of Christ.
What we all need to realize is that by the time we come to Christ, we already carry deep wounds from the time we were born, as the enemy of our souls has spent a lifetime causing hurts, pains, deep gushes in our souls and hence forth it is the soul, not the body and definitely not the spirit of a man that needs to be saved.
This is what causes our hearts to be hardened towards God; it makes us unresponsive to the Holy Spirit. All mankind are callous in their hearts, as they are full of bitterness, malice, resentment, hate, anger etc, because satan has grievously injured our souls through misfortunes, painful experiences, agonizing events, abuse, traumatic incidents, disappointments and the like; as a way of scarring our souls and putting mankind into bondage.
Over the years, these become strongholds of wickedness that manifest in our thoughts, some call them strongholds of the mind. This is one reason why every offense is hard to shake off and it really takes maturing in spirit, in order for our hearts to become like those of little children.
My prayer for you, is that may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, grant that your spiritual eyes become enlightened to see these things we are talking about, through an experiential knowledge of the Word of God, in Christ Jesus, Amen!
Anywhere, let me carry on. What soon ensued was a daily, unrelenting battle of the mind, where-by the enemy laid siege of my soul by a continuous bombardments or barrage of thoughts that elicit painful memories and inclinations.
This went on for months as I did everything I know how, to stand on all the scriptures on love that I knew, I wielded every revelation on love that the Lord was showing me.
On one fateful day, all of this unrelenting spiritual warfare culminated in a crescendo, an occurrence I could never imagine.
The spiritual battle was so intense that after days of going without sleep, my physical strength ran out and as I lay on the floor telling the Lord that I had nothing else left in me to fight, I asked God Almighty to help me not face my demise.
I realize that most of what I prayed lacked faith, as I was just a spiritual babe but the God of many, many mercies did not leave me to perish. Some strength returned to my body and as I willed myself to sleep, suddenly my body was enclosed in a bubble and this bubble was suddenly sucked into my spirit.
This was the second impartation in my life and it turned out to be a pivotal day because two things happened,
1) the next morning I was filled with an overflow of joy & strength, that lasted for a month,
2) the ministry gift of the teacher was activated in my spirit.
Above all, I was ushered into a new realm of glory, of authority and of power. What a glorious victory worthy & befitting of my beloved Lord Jesus Christ, to God Almighty be the glory and power and honor, forever and ever in Christ Jesus Amen!!!
4. That’s amazing! Did forgiving mean forgetting to you?
1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us that “love takes no account of a suffered wrong”, another version says “love keeps no record of wrong”. That same verse also says that “love is not resentful, it is not fretful”, meaning that it does not keep negative thoughts & inclinations against anyone.
To cap it off, verse 7 says that “love is ever ready to believe the best of everyone”.
That settles it for me, as I must never tolerate any evil inclinations against anyone. I must fight every deviation to the love of God, fervently using the Word of God. So emphatically, Yes!! Forgiving is forgetting.
I subject every thought and inclination under the Word of God according to 2 Corinthians 10:5, I cast all negative and evil thoughts about people, I refuse to accept all negative remembrances of the events.
5. Is there a specific Bible verse that helped you with forgiveness then? Or a verse that reminds you to keep forgiving others or the specific person that hurt you?
I have two sets of scriptures that are the foundation and bedrock of my spiritual walk, like a bear robbed of its calf, I viciously wield them relentlessly against all form of offense against anyone or any situation.
Verse 1: Romans 5:5
We must understand that there are two forms of love,
1) Natural human love, which eventually runs out and is impatient & easily angered.
2) There is the love of God which came with our new born again spirits, when we were born again. This love is an everlasting and unfailing love because his name is Jesus! The next scripture describes this God kind of love in greater detail.
Verse 2: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
This God kind of love is patient and kind in all situations. He bears all things and endures all things.
As we lean on him who is the love of God in our spirits, we will find that the grace & strength to overcome offenses will be given to us and our spiritual territory will be constantly expanded as we will continually bear more fruit of the spirit & grow exceedingly in faith.
We will discover that our spiritual lives will be productive and we will make certain our salvation such that when we leave the earth, we will receive a grand entrance into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
6. How did the fact that Jesus forgave your sins and died for you help you forgive the person who hurt you?
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”Mark 11:25-26
In the Scripture above we see that if we do not have free spirits, we ourselves will soon find out that we will not be able to appropriate our Father, God Almighty’s forgiveness manifested in the things freely given to us in Christ Jesus.
The beginning of all things is spiritual, so immediately we will lose our fellowship (God the father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit) which is more precious than any physical blessings.
Soon we will become unproductive as the things of God will become more distant, inspiration in the Scripture we read will depart from us. The product of all this becomes religion.
7. How do you feel now when you think of the person that hurt you? What kind of feelings or thoughts do you have?
I choose to think good about them, I choose to speak only good because I am a spirit, I am not flesh. This is an important lesson all Christians must learn.
You are not what you feel, you are not what you think but you are what you believe, you are what the Word says about you.
The Word is a reflection of your spiritual life. Over the years as I have practiced this over and over, it never fails that any malice, bitterness or evil thoughts about people that offend me slowly fizzle until they become undiscernible.
Until feelings of compassion, mercy and love become the outward reflection, but I must say that it was not easy in my earlier days as bitterness would permeate my preaching, malice would unwittingly show itself when I interact with the people who have offended me; I would find myself speaking evil of them, gossiping about them.
You see that is why the bible talks about loving from the heart, in other instances Paul says loving from a pure conscience (1 Timothy 1:5); everyone who is named by the name of Jesus must heed this and grow in it.
8. Any advice to someone holding on to past hurts that you wish someone had given you?
After any offense do not waste time trying to understand the How, what, why, when, where; instead immediately run to the Word, meditate on scripture pertaining to love and then start confessing the scripture against every thought, feeling, inclination against other people.
Do not stop confessing until your heart is at complete peace. Sometimes in severe offenses you will need to find a quiet place to pray in the spirit until your heart comes back to peace and after that you must fight off anything negative against the people involved.
Remember that offenses must come but you have overcome the world. We praise God Almighty who has given us the victory in Christ Jesus! Amen! Be blessed in the name Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen!
My Encouragement to you
What an amazing lesson on forgiveness!! Is forgiveness easy? No! But is forgiveness possible? Yes! Only by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us can we learn to love like Jesus and forgive like Him. The same way God has forgiven us and continues to forgive us is the same that we can do for others.
Lord Jesus, thank you for your amazing grace on the Cross. Thank you that in You, my sins are forgiven. I pray for the people that have hurt me and call them by name_____, ________, and ______. By the power of the Holy Spirit, teach me to forgive them and free my spirit from any bitterness that I have towards them.
In Jesus name I pray. Amen