At Mt. Hermon Women’s Conference, it was my joy to watch women set free from the bondage of bitterness. As the keynote speaker, I taught a few basic truths about what the Bible says about forgiveness. Unfortunately, I know firsthand about the evil trap of unforgiveness and hate; I am a “professional list-keeper” of wrongs. For a long time, I thought I was in control when I held onto my grudges. I felt empowered as I kept track of every single wrong done against me. I thought I had the right to be angry. Forgiving others was the last thing on my mind—I wanted revenge.
I found freedom when I discovered we can train our minds to refuse to keep score of the wrongs others have committed against us through the power of God’s word. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Love keeps no record of wrongs” (NIV). We must not keep lists of anything that has hurt, angered, offended, or wronged us. It’s only through God’s power this is possible.
We give God permission to do whatever He wants with us when we choose forgiveness instead of bitterness. This is one of the most difficult steps of faith we will ever take. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a permanent attitude.” Forgiveness should actually begin at the time of the offense. Forgiveness is the only way to follow God in faith.
It helps to take these four steps toward getting rid of the grudge.
Step 1: Confess it—Repent
We must agree with God about our sin. Blunt honesty can be difficult. It is essential before we can be healed of an unforgiving spirit. Consider Romans 2:4: “Or do you think lightly of the riches of his kingdom and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (NIV).
Step 2: Let go of it—Release
We must release our hurt and hate to God. This means giving up our control of the situation and its outcome to Him. We choose to release the offending person when we give him over to our Heavenly Father. Letting go of the grudge means we are choosing not to hold a person accountable for the debt we feel he owes.
Step 3: Name it—Recognize
Dr. Neil T. Anderson said, “Unless forgiveness visits the core of your emotions, it is incomplete.” God has wired us with a need to constantly get rid of pent-up hurt and hate. This purging of the soul restores our right relationship with Him; it’s good for us spiritually, physically, and emotionally. We allow Him to do a deep work in us when we name the emotion, identify our feelings, and commit them to God.
Step 4: Believe it-Receive
We give ourselves a gift when we receive God’s forgiveness. Have you ever asked God to forgive you, and He’s said, “No, sorry, you’ve run out of forgiveness coupons for today.” Absolutely NOT! Jesus was asked, “How many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? Not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21–22 [NIV]). God will always forgive us, and, in the same way, we must forgive others.
At the end of the session at the conference, I asked each woman to list the person(s) name on a sticky note. I gave the altar call and en masse, they came forward. It was beautiful to watch more than 160 women process the truth of God’s word, yet even more marvelous to watch them walk to the cross in obedience. It was there at the foot of the cross, their burdens of bitterness were laid down for good.
“God made you alive with Christ, he forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code with its regulations; that was against us and that stood opposed to us, he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13,14
All my love, Sheryl
Dear Father, Thank you for the sacrifice that your son paid for us on the cross. Thank you for the plan you put in place for His blood to cover all of our sins. Thank you for nailing to the cross every hurt, hate, and offense I’ve released to you. I praise you for setting me free. Thank you for the power of your mighty cross. In Jesus name, Sheryl