How Forgiveness Opens the Door for Healing

5 Mins read

Forgiving people who have wronged you is one of the most difficult concepts that humans face. When someone does something that hurts you, the natural reaction is to build up a wall, or even worse, to get even. Unfortunately, both responses, while natural, are not in God’s plan for His people. When you make the decision to forgive others, you also make the decision to allow yourself to heal. If you have been struggling with unforgiveness, consider the healing that doing so provides.

Forgiveness is one of the most difficult virtues to express. When someone does something that hurts us, whether it’s physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, truly forgiving that person is hard. After all, what if you forgive them and then they hurt you again? What if you forgive them, but they don’t show any true remorse for what they did? With so many complications associated with forgiving others, isn’t it easier to just build up a wall of unforgiveness, deciding instead to hold onto the grudge? Doing so allows you to protect yourself from future hurt, doesn’t it? Not exactly.

Unforgiveness actually has a worse impact on you than the initial hurt does. Christian Author, Lewis B. Smedes once said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that prisoner was you.” When we build up our walls of unforgiveness, it’s easy to assume that we’re punishing the other person. However, we quickly find that we’re only punishing ourselves.

Let’s look at this logically. If someone has hurt you, especially intentionally, they probably don’t care if you forgive them or not. However, when you hold onto hurt, anger, and bitterness, those feelings start to wear on you. Before long, you can become so consumed by the animosity that you feel that it’s hard for you to go on with your life. Instead, that wall that you built to hold the offender out is really only serving to hold you in.

Please understand, forgiving other people doesn’t mean that you set yourself up to be hurt again. For example, if someone that you trust steals something from your home, you can forgive them without giving them unlimited access to your property. Just because you don’t hold a grudge against someone doesn’t mean that you set yourself up for a repeat offense.

Is it truly possible to forgive someone who has hurt you? Does doing so actually benefit you? These are just a couple examples of questions that people have when it comes to forgiving. One of the most common themes in Scripture is forgiveness. When we better understand what Biblical forgiveness is and how we can extend it to ourselves and others, we can truly open the door for healing in our lives.

If you’ve struggled with forgiveness, take heart. You’re not alone. However, today can be the day that you set aside bitterness and allow yourself to heal.

Where Does Forgiveness Begin?

Ephesians 1:7 (TPT)
Since we are now joined to Christ, we have been given the treasures of redemption by his blood-the total cancellation of our sins-all because of the cascading riches of his grace.

In order for us to truly understand the healing power of forgiveness, it’s important that we understand the origins of forgiveness. That may sound odd, but we have a written account of the first example of forgiveness in human history.

If you read Genesis, the first book of the Bible, it opens with the creation account. Within a couple chapters, we read about the first sin. Adam and Eve were given one simple instruction: don’t eat of the fruit that grew on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Unfortunately, they allowed themselves to be deceived by Satan, ate of the fruit, and sin entered the world.

God had an opportunity to scrap creation in the moment. After all, there were only two people on the planet, and they had managed to mess everything up. However, instead of wiping Adam and Eve from the face of the planet, He opted for forgiveness. Their sin caused them to experience shame because they realized they were naked. While God put them out of the Garden of Eden, look at this verse from Genesis:

Genesis 3:21 (NIV)
The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

There were consequences for sin, but God still took care of Adam and Eve. Instead of telling them to figure it out on their own, He made clothes for them.

Just because we hold people accountable for what they do doesn’t mean that we don’t forgive them. God didn’t tell the world’s first couple that they could continue living in the Garden, but He still forgave them. When we look at this story, the first example of forgiveness, we understand what forgiving others is meant to look like in our own lives.

Numbers Never Lie

Matthew 18:24 (TPT)
As he began the process, it came to his attention that one of his servants owed him one billion dollars. So he summoned the servant before him and said to him, ‘Pay me what you owe me.’

Jesus used a parable filled with numbers to discuss forgiveness with His disciples and other followers. In this parable, Jesus talked about a servant who owed his master $1 billion. Faced with an unpayable debt, the man threw himself on the ground and begged for mercy. The King forgave his debt, as astronomical as it was. However, when the man left the room, he ran into another servant who owed him $20,000. When he saw the man, he was filled with rage, choked him, and demanded his money (Matthew 18:28).

When the king heard what was going on, he threw the man in the same prison that he threw his fellow servant into.

Perhaps Jesus used numbers to get us to better understand the magnitude of the forgiveness that He has shown to us. When we stand before our King, there are a billion reasons that He shouldn’t show us mercy, but He chooses to. However, He also expects us to show people the same brand of forgiveness.

If you’re struggling with forgiving others, spend some time reflecting on how much God has forgiven you. This will allow you to truly understand how important it is that we forgive others.

How Do We Forgive?

Luke 11:2-4 (TPT)
So Jesus taught them this prayer: “Our heavenly Father, may the glory of your name be the center on which our life turns. May your Holy Spirit come upon us and cleanse us. Manifest your kingdom on earth. And give us our needed bread or the coming day. Forgive our sins as we ourselves release forgiveness to those who have wronged us. And rescue us every time we face tribulations.”

Once you’ve accepted that forgiving others is the key to personal healing, you may be left wondering how you turn that idea into a reality in your own life. After all, you probably have people who have hurt you to your very core.

The lesson that Jesus taught the disciples on prayer gives us two insights into how we practice forgiveness. First of all, you will have to ask God to give you the strength to do it. Forgiving others doesn’t come naturally, but God doesn’t operate in the natural. Instead, when we ask Him for the power that is required to forgive, the Holy Spirit begins to work in us, allowing us to do so.

Secondly, look at the words He used: “As we ourselves release forgiveness to those who have wronged us.” Forgiveness is locked up inside you, and it’s up too you to release it to other people. Releasing it doesn’t only help the other person, but it also helps you.

A Closing Prayer:

Heavenly Father, help me to forgive others in the same way that You have forgiven me. I know that I have been wronged, and I am hurt, but I also know that I have wronged You infinitely more. If I want to receive forgiveness, I must release it. Give me the strength to do so. In Christ’s name, Amen.

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