There is multiplied power available to us. It can release us from the heavy burdens we carry. It can unleash blessings from heaven our way. It can cause us to see the world from an entirely different perspective. That power is what happens when we know we are forgiven and therefore must forgive others.
There are many reasons Jesus talks so much about this power, but one of those is that it's entirely up to us to accept and then appropriate to others. When we forgive others, Jesus forgives us.1 It is really a simple concept, but it creates a landslide of blessings when we live our lives in a constant state of looking beyond another's fault to who they can become.
If there is anyone qualified to teach on forgiveness it's Jesus. His very life's purpose was to bring the power of forgiveness to rescue us. Every one of us has sinned and fallen short of God's ideal plan.2 Without Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross and His resurrection, we would be bound for an eternity living separated from God.
Forget any preconceived idea of heaven being boring and hell being a party atmosphere. Any time we are without the influence of a merciful God, it will be hell, even if it is on Earth.
We come to God through Jesus. He is the way, the truth and the life.3 None of us come to God without Jesus. We simply accept His sacrifice, paid with His own blood and suffering, for our imperfections. Then, as if magic, He forgives all our sins: past, present and future. His supreme love for us paid the price for our sins.
This is why He looks so closely at how we treat our fellow human beings.
How God Sees People
There is no them and us. Jesus died for every person. So when we refuse to forgive someone, we are essentially saying we are better than them. Jesus doesn't see it that way. We are all in the same boat. We have all failed God in some way. The least failure is still a failure. There is no magnitude of wrong in God's eyes.
It's hard for us to understand because we are not God. He wants love to rule and reign in our lives. This cannot happen as long as we hold on to grudges or decide we will get our own revenge. Funny thing is, many times the way we decide to get that vengeance is to simply hold on to our anger. This opens the door to emotional and mental illnesses which can also cause any magnitude of diseases and sicknesses in us, not the other person.
Harboring unforgiveness is truly "like drinking poison and thinking the other person will die."4 Many times another person is unaware they have done anything to us. That person lives life unconcerned while we flounder in resentment, anger and bitterness. Even if another has knowingly said or done something to us, they can live unconcerned because in reality, that's probably the way they live life.
When we hold on to an issue, it is not harming the other person. It is only causing us harm. There is a deep, dark hole we fall into when we don't do anything with what has now become our issue. If you are like me, you may not get outwardly angry, scream and holler, or stomp your feet. Instead, you may just let that anger simmer, boil and fester to a stench that affects most everything. Many try to drink, eat, buy or sniff the situation away. This attitude, then, becomes the way they do life.
Depending on how deeply we perceive we have been hurt, we will allow feeling we have been wronged to completely take over and govern our lives.
Sin Is Not the Person
The key to forgiveness is understanding sin is not the person. Jesus taught us to pray, "Forgive us our sins and we have forgiven those who sin against us." We separate the thing that person did or said to us from that person. Jesus died for our sins.5 He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities.6
As the soldiers who nailed Him to the cross gambled for His clothing, He did not condemn them. Instead, He cried out to His heavenly Father, "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing."7
Their sins, my sins, your sins were nailed to the cross. He died for our sins so that we can live forgiven when we accept His sacrifice. This is why we must forgive others who have harmed us. He forgave us.
"He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness. 'By His wounds you were healed.'"8
How to Forgive
I can be redeemed. You can be redeemed. The person who wronged us can be redeemed. The wrong deeds cannot. Their wrongs, my wrongs, your wrongs must be nailed to the cross of Christ. As we hand them to Christ to do that, we release them from our lives. With the hurt, the anguish, the pain, the wrongs committed against us, which God calls sin, released into Jesus' care, we can then choose to forgive that person.
A simple prayer borrowed from my friend, Joan Hunter, tells us how to do this. "Father I choose to forgive (insert name). What they did to me is sin. Take this sin from them and put it on the cross. And on the day of judgment when I stand before Your Throne, I will hold no accusation against them. Father, I ask you to bless them, in Jesus name."9
Who do you have to forgive? Use Joan's simple prayer. I'd love to hear about how the power of forgiveness has changed your life.
There is much more to forgiveness. In Sweet Freedom: Losing Weight and Keeping It Off With God's Help and Sweet Freedom Study Guide, Teresa talks about the power of forgiveness to get us through any overwhelming difficulty. She relates this to her weight loss journey, but as other reviewers have mentioned, Sweet Freedom is more that a book about weight loss. It's a book about allowing God to set you completely and wonderfully free utilizing the amazing tool of forgiveness. Get yours HERE. Also check under the FREE tab on TeresaShieldsParker.com for two Sweet Freedom resources including an audio of one of the chapters and a FREE ebook entitled Self-Sufficient. It's the chapter she left out of Sweet Freedom.
4This quote or something similar has been attributed to both Joyce Meyer and Marianne Williamson as well as many others. Hard to know the exact origin. Still a great quote.
51 John 2:2, 1 John 3:5
8 1 Peter 2:24 NLT
9 Hunter, Joan. Healing the Whole Man Handbook: Effective Prayers for the Body, Soul, and Spirit. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2006. Print.
Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, business owner, life group leader, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction and Sweet Freedom. Get a free chapter of her memoir on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page or Twitter.
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