Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.
—Luke 6:37, NLT)
Through the years I have learned that the inability to forgive is like a terrible cancerous disease. It eats at your spiritual health and ultimately destroys your relationship with God. Because God has given us a free will to either choose or reject Him, we also have a free will to either forgive or not to forgive.
In this verse in Luke, Jesus explains that if we don't judge, we will not be judged. If we don't condemn, we will not be condemned. If we forgive, we will be forgiven. Isn’t the inability to forgive really judgment of that person? Our hurt and our pain does not give us a license to judge that person. It does not give us a license to allow anger and hate to consume our hearts. In fact Jesus explains in Luke 6:35-36 that we are to “love our enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” We are to love those that hurt us. We can't harbor bitterness. It will only breed more hurt and devastation. We forgive without expecting anything in return. Those we forgive may not receive our forgiveness. But we are to be merciful anyway. Just as Jesus forgives us, we forgive others.
When we are devastated by someone's action, we have a choice what to do with the hurt and pain that arises. If we allow that hurt to define who we are, that pain will immobilize us. We find ourselves in bondage to our bitterness and hate. It directs our lives, and consumes our waking and sleeping moments. Holding on to the pain of unforgiveness is exhausting. Grabbing on to the bars of our emotional prison, we shake and demand our jailor to release us. The truth is we have jailed ourselves. We keep asking God to release the pain, and all along we have had the key to open the door.
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,” Paul writes (2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV). The Holy Spirit invites us to forgive so that we might open the door to our prison. It is our choice. Are we ready to be released from our bondage of resentment, bitterness, anger, hurt, frustration, hatred, and all that claims a hurting and hardened heart? When we choose to forgive, then we surrender what we believe we have a right to own. His power will enable our choice and transform our heart. “I will give you a new heart,” the Lord promises, “and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart” (Ezekiel 36:26, NLT). With the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us, forgiveness sets us free.
© 2017 Lynn Lacher