Tag Archives: resentment

The Habit Of Forgiveness

I believe that there are several habits we as Christians can adopt in our lives to become the type of believer we truly aspire to be. While Hebrews 11 has compiled a list of heroes of the faith for us, there have been many people who have lived since that time whom we can learn from as well. If I were to ask you to think of a person, past or present, who exemplified a life of faith as a believer, you could probably think of a name quickly. Whether they were written about in the Bible, history, or have just touched your life in some way, they have habits in their life that you and I can adopt into our own lives to become that type of Christian.

 
One of the hardest habits for us to adopt is the habit of forgiveness. When we’ve been wronged, we feel justified in holding anger and resentment against the one who wronged us. I’ve learned in my own life that anger, resentment and being hurt are all that’s needed to become bitter. That bitterness then becomes a prison that holds your thoughts captive and stops any progress in your life. It has the power to consume you and that kind of bitterness causes you to spread that poison to others.

God wants us to let go of the wrongs that have been done to us because He knows that’s where our freedom lies. You cannot be a productive Christian if you’re holding anger, resentment, or bitterness towards someone else. God’s desire is that we turn the other cheek, not so we can get hurt again, but so we can lead with our un-bruised side. He knows that we will be better witnesses for Him when we don’t lead with our hurts and bruises out front. He knows that we can be healed in time when we first learn the habit of forgiveness.

In Matthew 6, we find the Lord’s Prayer. I’m sure you’ve memorized it at one point in your life. What you may not have memorized are verses 14-15 which come immediately after it. Jesus followed up His prayer with, “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 in Heaven will not forgive the wrongs you have done” (GNT). Your forgiveness from God is dependent on your ability to forgive others.

I like how the Amplified Bible describes what forgiving “wrongs” is and looks like. It says, “Their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up your resentment.” All of this is put on you, not the other person or God. Your own forgiveness starts with your ability to let go of what someone else has willfully done to wrong you. The life God has for you will be bright and fresh again once you choose to adopt the habit of forgiveness.

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The Hardest Thing To Do

One of the hardest things for us to do is to forgive someone who has wronged us. It’s also one of the most liberating things to do. The Bible is full of examples of people who forgave, people who didn’t and why we should. That doesn’t change the fact that it is difficult to do when it comes down to it. Letting go of a wrong seems unnatural. It seems like if I am wronged, I should hold it over their heads forever because of the pain they inflicted. The problem with that is that it becomes all we think about and we become bitter.

We’ve all prayed “The Lord’s Prayer”. We know the line that says, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” We’ve prayed that line in the King James Version all of our lives, but have we really meant it or understood it. The Amplified Version uses these words to enhance the word forgive: left, remitted, let go of the debts and have given up resentment against (our debtors). The last thing Jesus said there was that we were to give up the resentment we hold against those who have trespassed against us.

Immediately after saying amen in the prayer, Jesus started talking about the forgiveness He mentioned in the prayer. He knew that the rest of the prayer was relatively easy to say and live by. He understood that the one part of the prayer that was our responsibility was the hardest to swallow. So He attacked it straight on before anyone could speak. The Message writes it best. Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15, “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.”

He put every bit of that on us. We can’t get forgiveness unless we forgive. We have the option to grant or refuse forgiveness. We just have to understand that when we refuse it, we are also refusing God’s forgiveness for our sins. That’s a bold way to approach the subject of forgiveness and how important it is to God. He used a gentler approach in a parable where a man owed a huge debt. He was thrown in prison for the rest of his life because he couldn’t pay it. He threw himself at the kings mercy and was granted forgiveness. He walked out of the prison and went to a guy who owed him a couple of dollars, and threw him in prison for not paying it.

When the man begged for mercy just like he had done with the King, he refused it. When the King heard that the same man who had been forgiven was treating someone else so poorly, he ordered that he be thrown into prison too. If he couldn’t show the same compassion and forgiveness he had received, he wasn’t worthy of it. Jesus again underscored the importance of us forgiving others and linked it to God forgiving us. We must let go of the resentment we’ve been holding onto in order to not cut ourselves off from God’s forgiveness. When you truly let it go, it will be one of the most liberating experiences of your life.

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