When was the last time someone gave you permission to forgive — then gave you the freedom [a ticket so-to-speak] to do just that? What stronghold could be holding you back? Hurt, pride, prejudice, anger, vengeance, fear, hate?
There are so many painful strongholds attached to unforgiveness that we can’t even begin to imagine them. No one but you knows how much it hurts.
My father forgave on his death bed a few months ago. But everyone around him thought he was the one to be forgiven. And yet, Jesus was very clear about this stronghold. So how does the stronghold of unforgiveness work exactly? Why should we forgive? How will we know we have forgiven? What can we do to guarantee that we have forgiven everyone and anyone who has done us wrong?
1. Let go of pride and selfishness. Letting go releases us and allows us to think clearly.
Philippians 2:3 Don’t act out of selfish ambition or be conceited. Instead, humbly think of others as being better than yourselves.
2. Always forgive. Forgiveness is a process. Just saying the words, ‘I forgive’, will not clear the reasons for your hurt, pain, anger, etc. You may have to forgive over and over again.
Luke 17:4 Even if he wrongs you seven times in one day and comes back to you seven times and says that he is sorry, forgive him.”
3. Take down your barriers. Forgiveness is not a one-way ticket. When we harbor unforgiveness it separates us from the forgiveness of God. Just like putting up a barrier.
Mark 11:26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your failings and shortcomings.
Matthew 6:15 But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.
4. Check yourself to see if you have forgiven.
- We know we have forgiven others when we can pray for the offender without malice.
Matthew 5:44 But I tell you this: Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.
- We know we have forgiven God, when we can praise and thank him with sincerity. Love wells up inside us.
Romans 1:20-22 From the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly observed in what he made. As a result, people have no excuse. 21They knew God but did not praise and thank him for being God. Instead, their thoughts were total nonsense, and their misguided minds were plunged into darkness. 22While claiming to be wise, they became fools.
- We know we have forgiven ourselves when we don’t feel false guilt and instead feel good about who we are in Christ.
Psalm 16:7-9 I will praise the Lord, who advises me. My conscience warns me at night. 8I always keep the Lord in front of me. When he is by my side, I cannot be moved. 9That is why my heart is glad and my soul rejoices. My body rests securely.
Acts 2:25-26 This is what David meant when he said about Jesus: ‘I always see the Lord in front of me. I cannot be moved because he is by my side. 26That is why my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices. My body also rests securely.
5. Forgive even those who have not asked for forgiveness. Forgiveness is for you. It will clear your heart and life so that you can be free to be forgiven.
Matthew 6:14-15 “If you forgive the failures of others, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failures.