Initially published in 2011
(Prefer to hear the post in the writer’s own voice? Click on the arrow above to start the player).
The concept of forgiveness is central to the life of the Christian. Jesus was our perfect example of forgiveness. As he was hanging on the cross, about to give up his very life for our sins, He taught us by precept and example how to forgive. In Luke 23: 24 he cried out to His heavenly Father for those who were in the process of persecuting Him:
Luke 23:34 (KJV)
34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
Definition of forgiveness
Forgiveness is defined as the process of stopping or ending all resentment, indignation, or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake. It is ceasing to demand any punishment or restitution for anything that was done. The Oxford English Dictionary defines forgiveness in this way: “to grant free pardon and to give up all claim on account of an offense or debt”. A few years back we had a popular little phrase that went: Let it go, Louie. No matter what the situation may be, you’ve got to let it go, Louie.
The flesh loves to be pitied
Sometimes flesh just does not want to let go of little injustices. I’ll use myself as an example. An individual did something to me once that was so terrible I couldn’t wait to tell everybody I knew about it. Ooo, I knew that when I told all my friends they would see, not only how awful the individual was that did the thing to me, but they would see just how badly I had been treated. Man, they would feel so sorry for me. I would be like a martyr in their eyes. But God broke up my pity party. He spoke to my heart and said, “I have comforted you.” I was like… “Aw man”. When God said that He had comforted, then there was no need to tell anyone else. “What? No brownie points?”
God poked a hole in my self-pity balloon and took all of the wind out of my sails. Then He let me know that the way that I could tell that I had truly forgiven the individual would be if I refused to mull over or mention the incident in self-pity or to demean the individual about the incident ever again.
Who benefits from forgiveness?
So who actually benefits from forgiveness? Not only does the person who is forgiven benefit, but the individual who forgives benefits even more. Research studies have found that people who forgive are happier and healthier than those who hold resentments. Recently I saw a little sign that said:
“Forgiveness is not something that we do for other people, we do it for ourselves to get well and move on”.
My understanding of how to forgive was changed
Something that a great woman of God (my Late Pastor’s wife and co-founder of the church that I attend) said to me changed my whole understanding about forgiveness. She said, “Sis. Alfreda, I forgive people, even if they never ask me to do it. I just can’t hold onto things that people do to me. I learned that from my Mother”. Those powerful words are words that we all need to learn to live by. Just let it go, Louie.
What does the Bible say about forgiveness?
What does the Bible teach us about forgiveness? The story of the Prodigal son is one of the most powerful lessons on forgiveness that we should learn to emulate. The Prodigal Son unjustly asked his Father for his inheritance, then squandered the money away. After the son fell into a destitute state, he came to himself, went back to his Father and repented. His father forgave him of his transgressions. The story is found in Luke 15: 11-32. Prodigal Son’s father forgave him. But even if the individual never repents, we must forgive them. We can do it because the Holy Spirit that lives within us empowers us to do what we could not do alone.
A true-to-life short story about forgiveness
I want to share a story of how God was able to use forgiveness so that a soul could be saved. This is the true story, not a parable, of a young woman who gave her life to Christ. When she got saved and filled with the Holy Ghost it stirred up the very devil in her husband. He decided that he didn’t want to be married to her anymore, so in the middle of winter, he put her out of their home. He took everything that she had and put her and their child out of the house that they built together. Ultimately, he divorced her and married someone who was not saved.
Fortunately, God had already prepared a way for her and a Saint took her and her child in until she could get re-established. God gave her a nice house, car (a Mercedes-Benz), a good job (faculty position at a local University), everything that she needed to raise her child and to live a happy life.
Approximately thirty years passed and the man had an accident in his kitchen. He fell, hit his head on the edge of his countertop and developed a bleed in his brain. The saved wife that he had thrown out and the saved son that he rejected, ran to his bedside, along with a number of other family members, and prayed for him and God honored their request. They received the assurance that he was able to make it into Heaven because of his miraculous response to their prayers. Look at what could have happened if the woman and her son had not forgiven the man.
Another short story of forgiveness
One more story on forgiveness. A young woman‘s parents were separated when the child was three years old. Her grandparents raised her and her siblings because the parents never reunited. The young woman grew up angry and bitter towards her mother, not because she hated her, but because the child loved her Mother so much. The child simply could not understand why her mother did not love her enough to raise her. As the child reached adulthood, God began to deal with the heart of the young woman. He saved her and filled her with the Holy Ghost.
The young woman was ill with a duodenal ulcer at the time of her salvation and began seeking God about getting her body healed. While sitting and watching Christian TV one morning, the Lord spoke through the TV minister and prophet. He said, “There is a young woman out there who is seeking God for the healing of an ulcer. God said that if you will call your Mother and ask her to forgive you for being angry with her all of your life He will heal you”. The young woman responded to the TV Prophet and said, “Why should I be the one to ask her to forgive me? She’s the one who did it.” The TV Prophet responded to her just as though they were having a face-to-face conversation. He said, “Yes, but who has the ulcer?”
Suddenly the young woman realized that she was talking to a Prophet on TV! How unreal could that be? Then the full reality hit home that she was actually arguing with God. She knew that it was God speaking to her through the TV Prophet. Later, God spoke to her and told her that He chose to have her to ask for forgiveness for a specific reason. He said, “I speak to the one who is listening.”
Her obedience brought great benefit to her and her mother
The young woman called her Mother and asked for forgiveness. Both she and her mother broke down, cried and talked for hours. God healed that relationship. Not long after, God allowed this young woman to pray for her own Mother and her Mother received the infilling of the Holy Ghost. God gave them both the beautiful Mother/daughter relationship that they both had longed for. Needless to say, God healed that young woman of the ulcer that she had when her Pastor laid hands on her and prayed for her. I know both of these stories to be the absolute truth. How do I know? Because I am the young woman of both stories.
But, what happens if we don’t forgive?
We’ve talked about what can happen when we forgive but there’s another side of the story. What can happen if we don’t forgive? According to Matthew 6:14-15 (KJV)
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
In Matthew 18:21-35 (KJV) Peter asked a question regarding forgiveness:
21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
If we don’t forgive, God won’t forgive us
Now that’s a serious concept. If we don’t forgive, God will not forgive us for our trespasses. We have to learn to be Teflon people. A good Teflon-coated pan will not let anything stick to it. The enemy will continually try to have unforgiveness stick to us, but we have to just shake it off. We cannot allow unforgiveness to stick to us. Even if the individual who wronged us never asks for forgiveness, we must make sure that we have forgiven them. Then, when our little issues (or big issues) come up, God can forgive us. I never said that it would be an easy thing to do, but it must be done.
How to forgive and forget
Some may say, “I try to forgive, but I can’t forget.” Forgiveness, like love, or any other conscious choice is an act of our will. We choose to forgive, therefore we do. Whenever thoughts of not forgiving come up, we simply rebuke those thoughts and refuse to entertain them. Just stomp them down. Every time. Eventually, the thoughts of unforgiveness will align themselves with your will and go away. If you have the Holy Ghost, you have the power to do it. The power of the Holy Ghost makes the difference.
The Holy Ghost power that is spoken of in Acts 1: 8
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
If you have not received the power of the Holy Ghost power yet, make that a Number One priority. Get the power that you need to live according to the Will of God. If you need further information concerning receiving the Holy Ghost, come and visit us at Full Gospel Holy Temple World Hdq., Dallas, TX or one of our other thirty or so FGHT fellowship churches throughout the country. Find out more at http://www.fght.org. May God bless and keep you is my prayer.