I didn’t realize how much I had allowed the chains of unforgiveness to weave themselves so intricately around my body until I was reminded of the symptoms one Sunday morning as I sat and listened to the sermon.
“Someone does something to hurt you and you forgive them. But what happens at the very thought of the issue? Can you see them the way God sees them or are you still offended by what they have done to you?”
“Whoa, what’s that?”
I suddenly felt the tiring weight of “unforgiveness chains” pulling me down as a name came rushing to the front of my mind.
For the next few seconds I sat in my chair flooded by waves of images in my head of ways that I had been offended by someone. I had to admit right then and there that I had carefully constructed the “unforgivenss chain” I wore around my neck. I added bitterness link after anger link at the mere thought or mention of the person’s name.
“But you don’t know what this person does and gets away with!”
From the pulpit I heard “Unforgiveness is like lighting yourself on fire and hoping the other person dies of smoke inhalation.”
I nervously shifted in my seat and finally there was illumination. I had allowed Satan to hold me in bondage. His weapon of choice? Unforgiveness, bitterness, and anger. As the pastor continued to preach I thought about how the “unforgiveness chain” originally got its start. I was highly offended by someone’s treatment of me and others. I said something and asked for forgiveness, but the words were not heartfelt. I really didn’t mean what I said at all; I was merely going through the motions. Satan had his first link and was able to quickly add others by keeping those offenses at the forefront of my mind. At the time, I was fighting a losing battle because I had forgiven in my own strength. Needless to say, I was going nowhere fast. The more this person got away with, the more bitter I became adding another link to the unforgiveness chain. I was even allowed myself to be offended at something that didn’t even pertain to me in most cases. With each thought I saw clearly another link in the long chain currently holding me captive. At this point I knew exactly what I needed to do to be free.
As I continued to listen to the pastor, I was reminded that if I was going to win a fight against Satan, I had to use God’s weapons. I can’t do anything on my own, but by the power of the Holy Spirit I can forgive. I can conquer unforgiveness by choosing to forgive. Before I left the church that morning I chose to forgive. I had allowed the chains of unforgiveness to weigh me down for far too long. Now as I move forward, I will keep my eyes focused clearly on Christ and pray – not just for me but for the other person too.
I encourage you today to forgive as Christ forgave. If He can forgive us for what sent Him to the cross (our sin), then we can forgive someone for what they’ve done to us.
Matthew 18: 32 – 35 (NCV) – The Unforgiving Servant