Unforgiveness—The Enemy Within

“….forgiving one another even as Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

Joseph was his father’s favorite son of his old age and was hated by his jealous brothers. So they decided to kill him. One of his brothers showed mercy and convinced the other brothers to spare his life and throw him in a pit with no water instead. Arab traders came along, rescued Joseph from the pit, and sold him to the pharaoh of Egypt’s captain of the guard.

Years passed and because Joseph loved the Lord, God raised him up through many trials to be second to the pharaoh in governing Egypt. Due to a harsh famine in Israel, Joseph’s brothers came to him to beg for food. They didn’t know he was Joseph but Joseph recognized his brothers. He forgave them for their cruel conspiracy against him, gave them food and land, and said, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.” (Genesis 50:20)

Forgiveness is a process. We can’t forgive by ourselves, but with God working through us we can. Unforgiveness is like a cancer that attacks our spirit, generating hate, resentment, and bitterness in our soul. When we forgive, we are free from the bondage of sin. Yes, according to the Bible, unforgiveness is a sin. “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:26)

On the cross, after being brutally beaten, Jesus said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) If we want to be more like Jesus we must learn to forgive, even if the other person doesn’t apologize. When we do not forgive we hold something against someone—as if that person owes us something. Andy Stanley, a noted theologian, pastor, and author wrote, “The essence of forgiveness is a decision to cancel a debt.”

Forgiving someone does not mean that all the breaches in the broken down walls of the relationship have to be restored, setting ourselves up for possibly more hurts and disappointments. We don’t want to allow ourselves to be doormats either. It simply means letting go and moving on if necessary.

When we forgive, we are forgiven. It is as simple and as complex as that. (Judy Whittaker)

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