“Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
“What are those big red spots all over your neck?” “Why are you clawing at your arms?” “Why are you staring off into space?”
“None of your business!” I wanted to yell at the people who asked me those questions.
You see, I knew the answer to all those questions --- it was my inside making its way to the outside on my body because of bitterness and unforgiveness. In short, I was not passing on to others what Christ had done for me.
Oh yes, I made sure my fashion appearance was intact --- hair neatly coiffed, make-up smoothly applied, and yes, though I hate wearing shoes, I always wore the latest style. But, as I found out, the ugliness within was not complimenting my outward appearance. So, what was I to do?
First of all, I had to re-learn some misinformation I had picked up along the path of life as to what forgiveness really meant. For starters, I found out that it was not about the other person, it was all about me. It was about me releasing myself from the bitterness and grudge I had held against someone for so many years.
To do that, I had to make a choice not to go by my feelings. Quite honestly, if all my choices in life were based on my feelings, one of the first ones I would chose to do would be eat chip and dip all day long, along with not exercising. Not a good choice.
The supreme act of not allowing feelings to be a part of His decision making process was by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who laid the foundation for us to follow. Come with me to the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of Jesus’ betrayal by Judas. Knowing it wasn’t long before He would be arrested by the Roman soldiers, He went to the garden to pray. When He arrived, He fell on his face, crying out, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. What do you want?” (Matthew 26:32 – Message)
Clearly Jesus’ feelings were not wanting to do what He knew was ahead of Him, but He made the choice anyway in order to pave the way for our forgiveness.
Another thing I had to re-learn was that “people don’t have to tell you they are sorry before you forgive them.” May I break it to you gently: “Some people are never going to apologize.”
- Some will be stubborn and self-righteous and never confess they were wrong.
- Some will move away; you’ll never be able to speak with them again.
- Some will die before they confess and repent.
By waiting for others to show remorse or agree that they have offended us, could cause us to waste a lifetime. Let’s take a look at what Stephen did in Acts 7:60.
Stephen was about to be martyred for his testimony of Jesus Christ. Just before he was stoned, he delivered a 52-verse testimony that proclaimed Jesus Christ as Lord. Yet, perhaps the most astounding words of all to those watching were: “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” Stephen placed no conditions on his offenders before forgiving them.
Yes, along the road that lead to my forgiving others, I discovered there were many misconceptions that had been stumbling blocks in my path. However, there was one sure piece of evidence that I was not misinformed about and that was:
Unforgiveness was hurting myself,
my relationship with others,
and most important, hurting my relationship with God.
God, indeed, works from the inside out. What better way to become all that He created us to be than to rid ourselves of unforgiveness toward others?