A few years ago, the Lord gave me a wonderful opportunity to mentor and disciple a few young women from a former church that my husband and I attended several years prior. It turned out that word started getting around that these young ladies had been associating with me, and the pastors of this church did not approve. One young lady was told that she needed to disconnect from me immediately because my husband and I were dangerous individuals…we were called “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
Once the shock wore off from hearing such statements said about us, I knew I was faced with two options of how to handle these accusations: allow those words to embitter me towards my former pastors or lay down my offense at the foot of the cross, forgive, and pray for them.
In one of Jesus’ sermons in Luke 6, He gives great wisdom to those who are recipients of hurtful words and actions from others:
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28, NIV).
A few verses later, He simply states that one should do unto others that we would want done to us (Luke 6:31). As one who is a peace-keeper by nature, I typically struggle when I know someone has a problem with me. I am not one to burn bridges or cut people off. Of course, there is such thing as boundaries, but I have always tried to keep my heart free from offense; I admit, that I haven’t always been able to shake off those stings from words spoken about me. Knowing that offense will undoubtably come, I must be quick to forgive and quick to pray for those who mistreat me. It’s difficult to hold onto offense when you are purposely and intentionally praying for the person who hurt you. It doesn’t mean that we can always forget the action or words wielded against us, but it does mean that we cannot hold onto it. One of the best ways to guard our heart from bitterness is to ask God to bless those who curse us. You won’t have space in your heart for offense when you are approaching the throne of grace on behalf of that enemy.
Unforgiveness is bondage; It is a yoke that slowly tightens around our neck and chokes the life out of us. Bitterness is like a cancer that spreads throughout your whole body and affects you completely and everything and everyone around you. We are given many opportunities every single day to take the bait to become offended and hold grudges, but it is so important that we hold onto Jesus and His powerful Word- God’s perfect truth.
I don’t know who you may need to forgive. I don’t know how deep the pain goes, how big or small the offense may be. I don’t know how long you have carried that burden with you, but I do know that you need to forgive, and you don’t have to do it in your own strength. God has given you the Holy Spirit to help you, to heal you, to change your heart. Let’s ask Him to help us lift our enemies up to Him so that we can be free and honor God.
I come to You today first and foremost with a grateful heart that You would lavish Your mercy and love upon me, someone who has sinned against You, oh, Holy and righteous Creator God! Thank you for sending Your Son, Jesus, who stood in my place to die a death that I deserved so that I could be forgiven, justified, and restored back to You to now be called Your child. If I am holding onto unforgiveness against someone who has hurt me or gravely sinned against me, I repent and forgive that person immediately. I have no right to harbor unforgiveness against anyone, and as Your child, You call me to forgive others because I have been forgiven by You. I choose to obey You, no matter how difficult it may be for me. I trust Your Spirit will empower me to forgive and love others how You have forgiven and love me. Help me heal from the wounds that may have been caused by the hands of others. I pray for their heart that they would walk in repentance and walk in forgiveness and know and trust You like I do. In Jesus’ name, amen.