“But with you there is forgiveness” Psalm 130:4
Forgiveness. It is a word that holds within its bosom great meaning. For some, it is unattainable. Without it, they wither in a box of anger, bitterness and resentment, never knowing the freedom that comes along with the act of forgiving. For others who choose its path, forgiveness becomes an opened door to life unencumbered by things of the past.
Christ is such a wonderful example of so many things, forgiveness being one of them. In fact, Christ is the manifestation of forgiveness. God made spirit flesh when He sent Jesus to die for our sins, and His death reconciled God and man (Romans 5:10). Without the crucifixion, man would not have the opportunity to have a personal relationship with God. Therefore, Christ’s birth, life and death, is the link between man and God, the link of forgiveness in the chain of relationship.
While Jesus lived on earth, he ministered, he healed, and he taught his Disciples the ways of God. Christ also showed us how to forgive. I’ve said in one of my previous posts that, after being betrayed by friends, judged, wrongfully accused, mocked, savagely beaten, and nailed by hands and feet to the cross, Christ forgave. First, as he hung on the cross watching those, many of whom he had healed, ridicule, spit and curse him, He says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).
Secondly, Christ showed us how forgiving God is, even of those who rightfully deserve to be punished, when He forgave a criminal who hung next to Him on his own cross. This man acknowledged his own sins, and then asked Christ to “remember [him] when [He] came into [His] kingdom” (Luke 23:42). Christ pardon this man of his sins and told him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). His example of forgiving the unforgivable is what should give you hope.
After reading this, you may be saying to yourself, “I am not Christ. I can never forgive him or her for what they did to me.” And, you are right. YOU alone cannot forgive. It is through God that you will be able to do so.
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. Ephesians 4:31
In order to forgive, you must first be willing to clean your spiritual house. This scripture from Ephesians 4:31 lays out what must be removed: bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking. Let’s dissect each one by one.
- Bitterness takes root deep in the psyche and spirit of a person who has been wronged or hurt by another. It shows itself in how you speak, how you treat others and yourself, and what you believe. It is one of the main hindrances to forgiveness because it is the conduit to wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking. I believe this is why it is the first in the list of things God has instructed us to rid ourselves of in Ephesians 4:31.
- Wrath is a “forceful and vengeful form of anger”. The kind that makes you want to take matters into your own hands, and “get back” at the person that hurt you. Wrath keeps you up at night creating scenarios about how to make this person pay for hurting you. Though you may feel empowered by these emotions, you’re actually enslaved by them because they keep you living in your past, which embracing your future.
God provides a remedy for wrath in Romans 12:19 when he tenderly states, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” The knowledge that God will take care of those who hurt his children, (yes, that’s YOU), should help you to release your need to do so. Punishment is His business, not yours.
- Anger is a “strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong,” and is just as dangerous as wrath. Those who are angry may not be outwardly vengeful, but they are just as mad. Anger leads to all types of physical ailments including ulcers and hypertension. The Bible tells us on many occasions (Exodus 34:6, Numbers 14:18, Nehemiah 97, Psalm 86:15, 103:8, 145:8, Joel 2:13, Jonah 4:2, Nahum 1:3) to be more like God who is “slow to anger, abounding in love”.
- Clamor is not a word we use often, but it is an action that many of us perform on a daily basis. Clamor is a “strong expression of dissatisfaction”. The more you talk about how much you dislike the person that hurt you, the deeper you dig yourself into your past. Your words are like fertilizer that enables the roots of hatred to attach themselves into your spirit. Turning this type of negative speech around will require focus, awareness and a deliberate effort on your part. Remember, God’s instruction in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”
- Evil speaking is just that, speaking badly about someone or thing. Each of us has the power of life and death in the words we choose to speak (Proverbs 18:21). The thing is, when we speak ill of someone else, regardless of what they may have done to us, we open the door to our own unhappiness. Every time you want to say something negative about that person, pray Psalm 19:14: “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” I guarantee this will help to free you.
Forgiving the person that abused you won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. If you are ready to exchange your bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking for a future ripe with the purpose God has for you, then you are ready. In forgiveness, God will use your painful experiences as a testimony for those who need to know how to survive. He will make that difficult season in your life beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11) in order to bring someone else to their moment of breakthrough.
If you, or a loved one, are in an abusive relationship and want help, please click here for the National Domestic Hotline, or call them at 1800.799.SAFE (7233) 1800.787.3224 (TTY).
Candance L. Greene is Editor and Writer for Black and Missing Foundation, Inc. Her work has been published in several books, anthologies and articles including Bittersweet: An Anthology of Contemporary Black Women’s Poetry; Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction; Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir, and the Huffington Post. She is the founder of Cherishedflight Communications, LLC, an editing and writing service. Visit her website at www.cherishedflight.com and follow her on Facebook: cherishedflightcommunications and Twitter @cherishedflight.
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