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Forgiveness

In recent days with all the violence and unjust acts that have happened around us, it is easy (and normal) to react with anger and a sense of outrage. But it’s not healthy—physically nor spiritually—to fill our hearts with anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness. God tells us clearly time and again that we must forgive those who hurt us. We must love and forgive our enemies! Wow, that’s very hard to do. But it is possible when we have the love of God in our hearts… In fact, I think that’s the only way we’re able to make that huge step to forgive those who purposely inflict pain in our lives.

Here are several scriptures that instruct us to forgive others and how to do it. Let me start with Matthew 5:43-48 (NLT):

Teaching about Love for Enemies

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

This is a direct and clear message to love our enemies—not with human love but with Godly love. In addition, we are instructed to pray for those who persecute us! For as hard as this is to understand and do, let’s reflect on this action. When we pray for those who persecute and hate us, we allow God to work in their hearts, sometimes to the point that they change and they no longer persecute us. When pray, God listens—even if we don’t see the results right away. God always hears our sincere prayers.

Remember what Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” We may never understand this truth fully as long as we are living our earthly lives. This is a spiritual revelation we must accept in our hearts.

Next, let’s examine what the Bible tells us about anger and bitterness in Ephesians 4:29-32:

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Once again, the act of forgiveness is a huge part of our daily lives as believers. Simply put, if we don’t forgive those who offend us, God won’t forgive our own sins!

God commands us to not only listen to the things of God but to also act on what we learn. In James 1:19-22 we are told:

Listening and Doing

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.”

In 1 Peter 3:8-12, we have a final reminder:

All Christians

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. For the Scriptures say,

“If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
Turn away from evil and do good.

Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil.”

You may say, this is all great but it’s all easier said than done. You are correct. But as I shared at the beginning of the blog, we can only do this with the love of God in our hearts which we obtain by accepting Jesus into our hearts as our Lord and Savior. That’s how simple it is in the end…

Until next time.

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