“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” Ephesians 4: 26, 27 King James Version
In the last eight months, I have received three emails from people who said”I am having trouble forgiving people”. I used to have the same problem. It was very difficult for me to forgive people who had hurt me so much when I was younger. Until one day, God spoke to my heart and said”The reason why you are having trouble forgiving people is because you have not fully accepted My forgiveness for your sins”.
When He said that, I realized that indeed it was true, I had not fully accepted His forgiveness in my heart. It is very easy now to forgive people who hurt me because I know that He forgives me when I hurt Him. How can I not forgive others when He forgives me over and over. Now when someone hurts me I get upset, but I donâ€™t stay angry with the person like I used to do.
One night when I was praying and asking God to please help me forgive a man who had hurt me deeply, He said”I will help you, but there is someone else you need to forgive. You havenâ€™t forgiven everyone”. I thought and thought and couldnâ€™t think of anyone else that I was upset with except that man.
God told me to keep searching my heart because I needed to forgive this other person. I tried to remember who else I needed to forgive. I kept searching my heart for about eight hours and couldnâ€™t think of anyone else that I should forgive. I finally said”God, please tell me who I need to forgive”. He spoke to my heart in a tender, compassionate voice and said”You need to forgive yourself”.
Jesus died for us as well as for the people who hurt us and He loves us just as much as He loves the people who hurt us. So, yes, we do need to forgive ourselves. Have you ever noticed that we are sometimes harder on ourselves than anyone else? I am a perfectionist. If it isnâ€™t done right the first time, then I feel like I have failed. However, that is just another trick of satan to discourage me.
If you will read the Scripture verses for today again, you will see where God said”Neither give place to the devil”. When we donâ€™t forgive ourselves that opens the door for satan to throw more of his fiery poisonous darts of humiliation and criticism at us. I used to have a terrible temper before I was saved and it took Jesus working in my heart many times to give me a sweet disposition.
Last night I got upset with someone. I didnâ€™t say or do anything unkind to this person. However, I had some unkind thoughts about this person for six hours. Finally, I asked God to help me forgive this person as it was very difficult for me to do it right then. You see, the person I was upset with last night was myself. I had made a decision without consulting God first and it was the wrong thing to do in that particular situation.
If you havenâ€™t forgiven yourself, then you havenâ€™t forgiven everyone. When we donâ€™t forgive ourselves, we can not be effective witnesses for Jesus. When we share the good news of our risen Saviour, we should do it from a heart that is full of joy and happiness. If we havenâ€™t forgiven ourselves, the ones we are witnessing to will not see the joy of Jesus in our eyes and in our expressions.
Have you fully accepted Godâ€™s forgiveness? If you havenâ€™t, then ask Him to help you understand that He really has forgiven you and will not hold your past sins against you. Thank God for our loving Saviour who set the example for us when He forgave from the old rugged cross. Father, please help us to forgive others who hurt us and help us to forgive ourselves. Amen.
Copyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe