We’ve all been there.
Someone says or does something and we get offended. A defense goes up around us, and we naturally want division from the person who hurt us or who we don’t agree with. Usually, over time, we know we should forgive them. But it’s difficult to push past our feelings of hurt. We feel victimized, and so we go into protective mode.
When we are in this state of internal devastation, it's challenging to look at the supposed “offender” as someone who deserves to be forgiven. But what we don’t see is that unforgiveness ends up blocking our healing.
I wanted to share with you three reasons why forgiveness is holy, because maybe one of them will help you move forward towards peace -- both for yourself and for the relationship.
1.) It’s unselfish.
Forgiveness is holy because it’s not rooted in selfish emotions. Unforgiveness keeps our focus on how we feel, rather than trying to mend the hurt. And even if the other person doesn’t accept it, the act of forgiveness is showing them that we’re more invested in the longevity of the relationship and the condition of the souls involved.
2.) It’s responsible.
We must be accountable for the health of our hearts. Unforgiveness makes us feel powerful and puffs up our pride. It makes us feel justified. The problem is, if everyone justified their behaviors all the time, we would never have compassion towards anyone. We can’t force someone else to do something, but we can take responsibility for ourselves. We do have control over how we handle our emotions and this can open the door for healing.
3.) It’s Christ-like.
This might seem obvious, but when we’re in the heat of the friction, it’s easy to pass by it. Unforgiveness creates boundaries Jesus never set. His purpose is always reconciliation. God will never desire division among His people. If we want to truly become who we need to be, we have to embrace forgiveness in all its raw glory.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. ” Romans 5:8
We don’t deserve the beautiful love of the Lord Jesus Christ. But Scripture says that when we were still sinners, He died for us! We didn’t do anything to earn it. We didn’t do anything to deserve it. It was an action out of love. Yes, it was painful for Him. But sometimes we have to go through pain in order to receive healing.
God always wants reconciliation for His children, but the enemy wants division. We're not living in a forgiving society. In fact, unforgiveness is encouraged and glorified. It's much more exciting to gather together as a shouting, angry mob with signs than it is to sit and pray.
Harboring unforgiveness keeps the wounds fresh and open. But the Lord Jesus Christ sacrificed His own blood so that we don’t have to walk around hurt and broken. The cross reminds us that forgiveness isn’t earned. It’s a gift.
Forgiveness is hard but that’s why it’s holy. It stretches you to be more like Jesus and less like our enemy. Holding grudges might make us feel strong, but the real strength is forgiving someone even if you don’t want to. Change is holy. Change is sacred. Change is growth. We need to allow God to mold us into a better person, even if it hurts and even if it's uncomfortable . . . so that we're healed and are a witness of the true Holy One.