Why is it so hard to forgive someone who’s hurt you? People live with the philosophy that it’s an eye for an eye, but the kingdom of God doesn’t see things quite the same.
While you want justice and for those who did you wrong to be held accountable, Jesus wants you to forgive and love them as your brother.
You probably think that this person has hurt you too many times, or there’s some sins against you that are so bad you don’t have to forgive?
Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 18:21-22 that they needed to forgive each other 70 x7, which is equivalent to 490 times daily. You can’t hold grudges and have a heart of unforgiveness and make it to God’s kingdom.
Escaping the Mental Straitjacket
So how can you accomplish the monumental task of love and forgiveness when someone has deeply wounded you? What you must understand is that forgiving your brother is more about you than it is about them. When you have unforgiveness in your heart, you’re placing yourself in a proverbial mental straitjacket.
When you choose not to forgive others, the person you’re hurting the most is yourself. Today’s society is extremely egocentric, and many people hold grudges so long they forget why they got mad in the first place. When you give in to anger, it will rob you of your joy.
See, anger makes your heart hard and can block the grace of God from penetrating every fiber of your being. Remember in Matthew 6:12-13 when Jesus told the disciples that if they didn’t forget others that the Father in heaven wouldn’t forgive them either? How can you approach God and ask for forgiveness when you can’t forgive others?
If you ever become mentally sick, you could be placed in a straitjacket to restrict your movements. It’s a very uncomfortable position to be in, as you can’t move your arms and are at the mercy of the one holding you.
When your heart is full of bitterness, rage, and anger, you’re placing yourself in a spiritual straitjacket, and you’re restricted until you break those ties that bind. You can get mad, feel hurt and grieve, but you must forgive and show your enemy the same love God shows to you.
Purging the Root of Bitterness
Did you know that the root of your anger is often the desire to have power and control? That root goes deep. Have you ever found a weed in your garden amongst all the beautiful vegetation? It’s a gardener’s nightmare to see that pesky weed surfacing among all the hard work.
However, it’s essential to remove the weed so that it doesn’t overtake the area. Some weeds are of excellent nutritional quality, but others are toxic and can multiply so fast that they choke the life out of your other plants. When you allow bitterness to take root in your life, it can choke out the good in you. It can destroy a relationship, cause rifts in families, and make you miserable.
Scriptures About Forgiveness
Thank goodness Jesus spoke so much about forgiveness in the Bible. He left specific instructions for how you were to live and what to do when someone hurts you.
Now, that doesn’t mean that these instructions are easy to follow or that you will do it right the first time, but it can be helpful to read what He has to say on the matter. Here are some passages to help you understand your obligation to forgiveness.
1. Romans 12:19
Everyone wants revenge, and it seems to be a natural reaction. However, the Apostle Paul instructs the church in Romans 12:19 that vengeance is the Lords. This means that when someone does something wrong to you, you must turn it over to God, as He can fight your battles in a way that you never even dreamed.
You will only make a big mess of things if you try to handle it, but Jesus will defend you. Releasing this from your spirit allows God to take care of the person who committed the offense. You’re only job is to forgive and love them.
2. Luke 6:27-28
This was, no doubt, a challenging statement that Jesus made to His disciples. He’s facing crucifixion, but He’s telling them the importance of loving your enemies. Of all the scriptures on forgiveness, Luke 6:27-28 may be one of the most challenging to do.
Jesus takes it a step further and instructs you to love them and pray for them. Wow, now you’re not only mandated to forgive but to love them too. No, this is never easy, but if Jesus could forgive those who spat in His face, pounded a crown of thorns into His head, and hung Him there to die, then how does your offense even compare?
3. John 8:7
Jesus was on the Mount of Olives. A woman who committed adultery was there and about to be stoned under the law of Moses. Everyone was pointing their finger at her, and she was being ridiculed for her sin. However, Jesus stepped on the scene in John 8:7 and taught them all a lesson.
It’s easy to point your finger at people who are doing wrong, but while you’re pointing, you often overlook the things you’ve done. Jesus told the people that if anyone there was free of sin, they should be the one to throw the first stone at her. Yet, no one could say they were sinless. He told the woman to go her way and sin no more.
4. Psalm 34:17-20
Based on the scriptures above, you may feel that God doesn’t care about your hurt as much as He does about you forgiving people. However, in Psalm 34:17-20, David wrote to help with the overwhelming pain you’re feeling. This scripture brings so much comfort because it reminds you that the Lord is close to those who have broken hearts.
It acknowledges that a righteous man will be afflicted and hurt by people, but it also states that the Lord will deliver you. So, it gives your broken heart hope that no matter how bad the pain or how much it stings, God will bring you through it.
5. Psalm 91:1-16
Another powerful passage is found in Psalm 91:1-16. David is talking about the security in dwelling in the shadow of the almighty. It’s fascinating that this scripture uses birds to help drive the point. Have you ever seen a mamma bird with her young ones?
She takes them under her wing to protect them. These babies take time to develop, grow their feathers, and be ready to face the real and present dangers found in the wild. However, they find safety under her, just as Jesus is your safety.
When the world is cruel, and people are unkind, you can hide in the shadow of the almighty. It says you shouldn’t fear the night season or the snare of the fowler, as God will be your salvation. So, when people come at you and try to hurt you deliberately, your Father in heaven will be your shield and fortress.
Prayer for Your Hurting Heart
Lord, today I am choosing to forgive those who’ve hurt me. I am releasing these hurts to you to allow you to handle my justice. I am giving them to you because I can’t fight this battle anymore, as I am mentally tired.
Jesus, I understand that deep down, I have issues with power and control, but I want you to reclaim the power over those who’ve hurt me so profoundly. I let go of any wicked self-reliance that keeps me from serving you in total capacity. I want true peace in my life, and I know that I can’t have that until I give this battle to you.
I forgive those who’ve done me wrong, despitefully used me, and have been anything but good to me. I don’t want a root of bitterness to creep into my heart, and I don’t want to be in a spiritual straitjacket. I invite your Holy Spirit into all aspects of my life and heart, and I want to live for You all my days. Amen