Unforgiveness brings Division, Devastation, and Destruction
2 Corinthians 2: 7-11 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
Why is forgiving someone…hard to do? When someone does something hurtful to you, don’t you feel yourself wanting them to feel the hurt and pain you feel and then pay dearly for it? Let me take it one step further; has someone in your church, perhaps a church leader, ever done something to hurt you?
In 2 Corinthians 2, Paul is talking to the Corinthians about forgiving brothers and sisters in Christ who have been disciplined in the church and repented of their actions. Satan would love nothing better than to cause division in the church and strife among the body of Christ. If he can get in and cause division in a church by growing the root of unforgiveness, he will. I have seen first-hand how Satan can grow an unforgiving root in a church. The devastation, division and destruction it brings is heart breaking.
I am not going to pretend that forgiveness is a piece of cake – it’s hard when someone has wronged you or someone you care about. But forgiving is something that must be done if we are going to remain obedient to the Word. Matthew 6:14 – 15 tells us “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
We also see in 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NCV) that “Love does not count up wrongs that have been done.” It is our responsibility as Christians to let go!
“Impossible!” you say?
Nothing is impossible with God! (Luke 1:37)
Here is what has helped me forgive when everything in me wants to rub the hurt and pain in the face of the person who needs to be forgiven. I start by committing to lay the burden down at the foot of the cross. Try to picture this image in your mind. See yourself approaching the cross with the “unforgiveness issue” in hand. Kneel there and tell Christ you are leaving the issue with Him, rise in confidence knowing you’ve laid your burden down, and then walk away.
Continue to pray and ask God to help you keep the burden at the foot of the cross. Should you feel yourself getting upset or angry because you’ve “picked the issue back up,” return to the cross and lay it back down. You may have to lay it down every day or every second of every day…it’s ok. Trust that God is working in you. Satan wants us to hold unto our unforgiveness, when we let go we outwit him and are drawn one step closer to Christ.
Father God, forgiveness is hard….especially when someone has done something so wrong to me or a member of my family. My instinct is to lash out at them and want them to feel what I feel. But your word says to forgive. Help me to forgive the way you forgive. Help me to turn the pain and hurt that I feel into something good and purposeful. I don’t want to harbor anger, bitterness and resentment. I trust you to help me work through the unforgiveness in my heart and bring me to a place of true forgiveness. Amen