Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22
Lessons On Forgiveness Part 3
One of the definitions of bitter is: Causing a sharply unpleasant, painful, or stinging sensation; harsh.
As I ponder how I have become bitter in my own life one thing seems to have a common thread in feeding the bitter monster. Dwelling on it. Bitterness usually takes some time to infiltrate the mind and heart. It takes its time creeping in and then, like a wet dog it gets inside and shakes. Bitterness splatters each nook and cranny, drips on the floors, and runs down the walls. If we don’t clean it up quickly, it hardens and becomes difficult to remove.
Learning to grab bitterness and put it in its place before it takes over takes practice. One slip up reminds you to pay closer attention and take control of it before it gets as far as it did this time. Practice takes time.
We live in a now society. I don’t know if that is only American culture or not but we all want what we want now. Often times when it requires hard work on our part, we avert our eyes and pretend we can’t see any of it.
When it comes to forgiveness we often expect the same thing. Instant gratification. I realize God can and sometimes does pluck unforgiveness from our hearts right away but that’s not always the case. This is where the hard work comes in and if we allow it, where satan can grab a foothold in our lives.
When you are in the midst of wrestling with a forgiveness issue – keep working! Don’t give up! If you are still fighting to forgive, then you are making progress! Sometimes baby steps are required to get there but push forward!
Dealing with my molester and the family dynamic issue for 30 years wasn’t what I would have signed up for. Waiting on the Lord to work out the details for 14 years after He told me He’d use my situation for good, was hard! But I can tell you how thankful I am for waiting on Him and not jumping ahead.
I waited and prayed for my own healing. I waited on my mom because God needed to work some miracles in her life before she was ready for me to share with the world – which He has done in miraculous ways! If I had pushed this topic, book, etc years ago before it was the right time, it would have damaged my relationship with my mom and potentially others. God’s timing is woven in intricate perfection.
I had to forgive the man that hurt me, my family, and my parents in order to move forward with life and finally feel peace. What a relief to be able to release 30 years of pent up frustration, confusion, pain, and distrust.
None of this happened over night. My friend, do not grow weary in this fight! You can do it. Don’t let others tell you that you can’t or that you never will. Bitterness will try to tip-toe back into your life and other times it will get right in your face and scream at you because satan wants you to be held in bondage. He doesn’t want to see you claim victory and he knows if you are relying on Christ for it, then the victory is yours!
Memorizing scriptures is an important part of forgiveness. Prayer and Scripture memorization likely hold hands and dance together! They are best friends and you need both to be fully armed for this war. The devil is a lion looking to devour you. He’s hiding in the tall grass and watching and waiting for that one little show of weakness so he can pounce! Be prepared for it.
There’s a reason Christ told Peter that he had to forgive so many times. Christ knew Peter was going to have to do it over and over again. We’re not exempt from this. We’re going to have to forgive over and over again.
Don’t let the same situation surprise you down the road when you feel bitterness start to creep in again. Remind yourself of the promises you have in Christ and don’t allow your mind to dwell on being a victim. Stand firm in Christ. Recite your memorized verses and pray about it. Never let another human steal what the Creator has given to you. It’s your gift. No returns. No re-gifting. No theft. Yours for keeps.
Here is just one Scripture with a promise in it. Memorize it or choose another one that means something to you. Spend time dwelling on that particular Scripture and pray for God to move your heart toward forgiveness.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32