Updated: Jan 3
How do I truly forgive and move forward in my life?
(Matthew 16:14-15 ESV) '14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.'
Why Lord, why do you ask me to forgive those who I just can't forgive? Even when I try to forgive I do not know how to do it. I feel forgiveness one day, and the next day I am right back where I started. Help me Lord, help me to truly forgive and move on with my life.
The scripture stated in Mattew 6:14-15 can be harsh depending on your story (set of circumstances). God commands us as Christians to forgive everyone who has wronged us or He will not forgive us for the wrongs that we have committed. For Christians, this is the worst-case scenario, we gave our lives to Christ Jesus to be saved, to be FORGIVEN from our sins (wrongs/trespasses), and here we are facing the very thing that will stop us from receiving our salvation. That's right, refusing to forgive takes away our ability to be forgiven, if we are not forgiven there is NO salvation. It's right there written in the Word of God, spoken out of the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself. This is a non-negotiable statement, we must either choose to forgive or choose not to forgive and then live with the eternal consequences of our decision.
This statement out of the mouth of Christ was probably so simple to state but how difficult is it to actually live a life of forgiveness, especially towards those that did us wrong? The problem is the word WRONG and what level of wrong are we discussing? Usually the worst the wrong is the harder it is to forgive. We understand we need forgiveness and we accept what Jesus did on the cross for us to be forgiven but Lord how do I forgive someone that I don't feel deserves forgiveness? Let me explain, somebody hitting me in the face for no reason versus somebody killing one of my children are definitely two different levels of wrong. In one example, I am able to recover from the wrong that was done to me. In the other example, I cannot recover and I will have to live without the presence of my loved one for the rest of my life.
I have heard people talk about forgiveness in church, at work, and in different settings. It truly amazes me when folks talk about it at a level most times where it can almost seem trivial. I can understand where they are coming from, in general people are trying to do their best to get past some of the things that have hurt them in the past. But sometimes, it is said (you just have to forgive) so nonchalantly that in my mind I am thinking, wait to something truly terrible happens to you and then tell me what you feel (I know it is wrong but I still feel that way sometimes). Unfortunately, I have had a couple of things happen in my life that helped me to live in unforgiveness. I eventually did learn to forgive and live a life of forgiveness through Jesus Christ, I guess I better explain...
Short Personal Story:
When I was 21 my 23-year-old brother was killed. He was working on becoming a better man, getting his life together, and he was actually going to a university. Unfortunately, his past caught up to him in front of his apartment at the university in the late 1990s. This devastated me, I knew my brother was no angel but he was getting his life together and I was truly happy for him. When I learned more about the circumstances of his death and realized some of the fellas we grew up with, ate food with, and were with us on a regular basis when we were young, it crushed me. How could some of our boys, family (so to speak), be a part of this? I hated what was done, I not only didn't want to forgive, but I also wanted them to die too. For years I lived with this unforgiveness inside of me, waiting, and hoping they would meet the same type of fate. They don't know what they took from me, from his daughter, from his family. I wasn't Christian when this happened and in my mind, there was not even a thought process of forgiveness.
Fast forward about 5 or 6 years later I gave my life to Christ, but when I started to read and understand His word I didn't agree with certain scriptures because of what I had to do to live by them. The verses in Matthew 16:14-15 were a couple of them. I knew what they said and I would pray and ask Jesus how to do this. On the inside of me, I thought this just couldn't be done! In my thoughts, I would always go back to how much this cost my family. But the worst pain is the feeling of having someone snatched out of your life because their life was worthless in somebody else's eyes. It is an excruciating feeling, a paralyzing pain, very difficult to overcome.
I remember laying in bed one night reading about the crucifixion of Christ, and I was reading the part about the soldiers nailing His hands and feet to the cross. I was so into the reading that night that I was upset that these soldiers were doing to Jesus who had done no wrong. As I closed my eyes, I heard a still small voice on the inside of me that said, "Charles, you were nailing me to the cross also." I was having this internal moment, I didn't quite understand at first but then I realized my sin also nailed my savior (Jesus) to the cross. At first, I just started to cry, I had never looked at it this way. I was just as guilty of nailing him and crucifying Him on that cross as the soldiers, as any other sinner would be. Then it hit me, I had to learn to forgive because there is no justification before God for unforgiveness. All of mankind is guilty of murdering His perfect Son.
I would continue to pray and learn more about forgiveness and I would continue to read and learn more about the grace and mercy of God. What I realized in my development is that forgiveness is a choice that we have to make outside of our feelings and emotions. I also learned, that forgiveness is a choice that we must make daily. The reason is, even though we have made a decision to forgive on some days we will still feel those past feelings. That doesn't mean we have not forgiven, that just means we have to continue to work on living in that forgiveness daily. Some pains we will have for a lifetime but with the Lord, He will teach us how to move forward so we can live in the fullness of life He has prepared for us.
We forgive because He commands us to and also we forgive so it no longer has a strong hold on our lives. Who knew, living in unforgiveness would keep you bound, I didn't recognize it but I lived there for years and my life suffered greatly because of it. How, living in unforgiveness, holding on to the pain, the hurt, the anguish of the thoughts all kept me bound up, mad, angry, and my mind imprisoned. I am no longer imprisoned bound up by my own mind. I have learned to let go, forgive, and continue to move forward. I still have my moments where the hurt of my brother not being present still bothers me. What I do with those thoughts now is submit them to the Lord so that He can help me deal with them and I thank the Lord for His presence and comforting me in my time of need.
This week daily, take some time to pray and ask God for help regarding unforgiveness. Ask for His wisdom and understanding, He is there, He is the great comforter, and He knows how to put back together the wounded soul.
Take Care Family,
©Copyright Charles R. Myles II 2022
Check Out The Book "Wounded Soul: Death Lived Inside Me" by Pastor Charles Myles
Also Available on Amazon.
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