Last week I touched on the importance of Forgiveness in our recovery process while focusing on the need to forgive ourselves. While this essential, it is equally important that, as we continue on this journey, we forgive those who have harmed us and seek to make amends to those we have harmed.
Forgiveness of Others
We all have unfair and unjust things happen to us; unfortunately, that is a part of life. When we are hurt, we can choose to hold on to that pain and become BITTER, or we can choose to let it go and get BETTER.
Don’t let bitterness take root in your life. For your emotional and spiritual health, you must let bitterness go. Hebrews 12:14-15 tells us: Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled. (NKJV)
In walking through my personal recovery journey, I had to learn the importance of drawing closer to God and asking His help in identify the grudges and bitterness I had been harboring from past hurts. This is a difficult process and one that should not be taken lightly or with the assistance of good, solid accountability partners and sponsors; a process that harkens back to the Step #4 that I mentioned last week. As difficult as this process may be, it is only the beginning.
The next, and sometimes even more difficult, task is to forgive, REALLY forgive, those who have wronged you. Forgiveness is certainly not an easy task, particularly when relying on our own power to extend such grace. Instead, I have found it best to bathe the process in prayer and ask for God to give me the DESIRE to forgive the person as well as the strength the LEAVE the process in His hands. Forgiveness is a conscious choice that must be intentionally and repeatedly made until we finally reach the point where TRUE forgiveness has taken place.
In choosing to forgive someone for some past (or present) hurt is giving up or ‘right’ to punish them for what they have done. This is not only the better path to follow, but the Bible, in Romans 12:19-21, exhorts us along these lines: Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but [rather] give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance [is] Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (NKJV)
If you retain hate, anger, and bitterness in your heart, these are the very things that will come out of you, only to be inflicted on those around you, whether intentionally or unintentionally so. This is because we don’t realize our hearts are poisoned. The Bible says, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man…” (Matthew 15:18-20a NKJV)
I lived with bitterness and resentment in my life for a long time and, while there has been both spiritual and physical healing as a result of forgiving and letting go, I still have a ways to go before all the effects of this poison are finally removed from my life. While it was clearly my own choice to retain and nurture various resentments throughout my life, this was also a behavior that was modeled for me by my mother. Unfortunately, she did not learn to let go of the bitterness and resentments that were poisoning her body and spirit until it was much too late and too much damage was done. While I know what her death certificate lists as her cause of death, I know in my heart that her death was, ultimately, caused or at least hastened by the bitterness that poisoned her for most of her life.
You can’t do anything about the past, but you can do something about the future. Why don’t you forgive and trust God to make it up to you?
Taking Every Thought Captive!