“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, you shall not kill, and whoever kills shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court. But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother or harbors malice against him shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court; and whoever speaks contemptuously and insultingly of his brother shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the Sanhedrin and whoever says, ‘You cursed fool!’ [You empty-headed idiot!] shall be liable to and unable to escape the hell of fire.
So, if when you are offering your gift at the altar you there remember that your brother has any against you, leave your gift at the altar and first make peace with you brother, and then comeback and present your gift. Come to terms quickly with you accuser while you are the way traveling with him, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last fraction of a penny” (Matthew 5:21-26, AMP)
Dropping the Bible next to her on the carpet, she couldn’t believe what was coming to her heart. That can’t be God – No, God would never ask me to do something like that. Her heart ached inside her chest. NO! I will not forgive them! I cannot just let go of what they did! I cannot just let them get away with it! Her mind screamed as she began to sob.
Her shoulders slumped forward, as her hands wiped the falling tears from her eyes. Months of tears and crying were a daily occurrence. She had prayed, begged, and pleaded for God’s justice – His justice! But now, how could that Scripture come to her after what they did? “I can’t do it!” She cried, “I just can’t do it!” The words belted out of her, pouring her heart out to the Lord.
“They don’t deserve my forgiveness! They need to hurt like I hurt; they need to cry like I cried over the last few months. They need to feel the ache like I have had to feel pain! How can you ask me to pray love over them? How can you ask me to bless them? HOW CAN YOU DO THIS!” she screamed so loud and cried so hard, her voice screeched from the piercing shriek she let out.
Thankful the chair was underneath her, the woman cried harder, but the verse would not leave her heart. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Shaking her head, bewildered she whispered, “How can you ask me to forgive them? They don’t care, they don’t love, they show no remorse, and they would never do this for me?” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
The verse would not leave her heart. The pastor had even preached on forgiveness last week and her weekly devotion focused on forgiveness. It was God pressing this issue for her to deal with what she did not want to let go of. It’s NOT FAIR! It’s like my heart doesn’t count! I don’t want to feel like a doormat and just forgive people so they can keep doing this! Her mind raced with bottled up feelings; emotions stored so deep, only the hand of Christ could dig them up. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
Finally, exasperated and emotional drained, the woman bent down and grabbed her Bible. Opening to the one verse she did not want to pray, her hand trembled and shook the delicate pages of her worn precious book. “Love endures with patient and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening]. Love never fails [it never faces nor ends]” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
Again, her heart declared. She whispered the verses again, but the pressure to speak loudly overwhelmed her. She repeated the verses again; her voice noisily overcame the small prayer closet. Again, her heart affirmed. Louder and with more confidence, the woman prayerfully repeated the verse. Again, the Lord pressured. This time, taking a stand and powerfully praying 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, the woman felt a relief, a peace – like something was lifted off of her shoulders, she felt she could breathe deeper. Astounded, she let out a chuckle. Her head fell back and her arms rose high in freedom. Thank you my King, thank you.
His Word will push you further than you think you can go. The power in God’s Bible is amazing and overwhelming if you let Him work in your heart. The freedom to declare and profess forgiveness breaks the chain linked with bitterness, frustration, depression, anger, sadness, self-loathing, and abasement. Feeling freedom after days, weeks, months, or even years of iron fetters around your heart is breathtaking.
I’ve seen animals in captivity. These creatures have spent years behind iron bars or inescapable high walls. After years of confinement, if the animal is allowed freedom, many will never move from their small enclosure. When the gate is opened, I have seen animals cower in the corner, walk around their pen, and never step out of their small space. Woman, it is the same correlation to your heart.
Holding on to un-forgiveness will confine you. You have allowed the past to dictate and control you. You have allowed the hurt and pain to chain and hold you prisoner in a world of bitterness and sadness. When the Lord opens the door, allowing freedom and healing, many Christians will sit in their cell and never receive God’s precious gift.
Contrary to worldly opinion, forgiveness does not make the person or situation that harmed you right, but it sets you free. You free your thoughts from the torment of rolling around the situation over and over again. To give your mind the gift of peace and rest is an amazing treasure. You free your heart from pain. You free your spirit from a stagnate plateau. Forgiveness opens doors no man can close. This is what Jesus of Nazareth desired for his brothers and sisters – freedom.
I have had a handful of circumstances in my life where my heart has actually felt broken. Only the precious hand of Christ could heal my heart, but I had to make the decision to forgive. For one of these situations, it took months for me to let go and give over my hurt to God. I did not want to pray forgiveness because I was so angry. I felt injustice. I felt I was tossed aside with no regard to my feelings. I felt unloved and stifled. Praying 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 was the beginning of my journey to healing, but I also made a decision in my heart to not gossip, to not “tattle tell” to leaders, and allow God to vindicate me when He was ready.
I understand the desire to post your pain and slander the ones who have hurt you on social media. I understand the confusion as to why God allows the offenders to “get away” with what they did. I understand the astonishment as Christian believers lie. But woman, you will have to etch Christ’s words into your heart and spirit. His sermon specifically says to not hate your brother or sister, to not slander them, or call them names. Face-to-face confrontation is Christ-like character no matter how hard it is to face your accuser.
I have had face-to-face conversations with individuals who ripped my heart out. It was extremely difficult and vulnerable, but I was able to biblically follow Christ’s example. As Christ followers, we are to forgive quickly before the seeds of rage, gossip, hate, bitterness, and selfishness take root.
Jesus of Nazareth said to seek peace with your adversary, offer prayers and petitions for them, asking the Lord to reveal Truth to their hearts. If the Lord is revealing there is a situation in your heart that needs healing with forgiveness, then I pray you are listening and actively pursuing obedience to God’s will. Your relationship with Christ is precious and treasured. Un-forgiveness can cause a sense of distrust and hidden beliefs that are not true against the Lord.
For example, when I was deliberating obstinate with God’s will, my selfishness caused distrust in my relationship with God. I began to believe ideas that were not true: “You love others more than me. They get away with everything. This will never change and I’ll always feel like this. You will never reveal Truth to them. I’m always the doormat.”
These self-pitied statements went on for months before the Lord pressed me harder to let go of them. If I had forgiven quickly, I would not have wasted months of mental torment and anguish. My sister in Christ, please do not waste another moment on rehashing the old, the past, the hurt, and the pain. Allow the Lord to work in your heart where healing can begin.
The Lord Jesus was very direct with His followers. His Word is difficult to read and comprehend. 1 John 4:20-21 reads, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should [unselfishly] love his brother and seek the best for him.”
My prayer is this has planted a good seed for you. I pray this has made you consider and think if there is anything you may be holding onto that is causing your self-identity and confidence in Christ to falter. He is merciful and loving-kind. The Lord would never hurt you or deliberately put you in pain. When I began to pray over my situation with individuals, the Lord reveal, “I showed you Truth. I showed you character. I showed you what was behind the curtains in their heart. Be thankful for Truth.”
As astounding as it is to write, I am thankful for the hard walk, the difficult journey, and stretching of my faith. My relationship with God is deeper because of those heart-breaking situations. My identity rests on Christ alone; a trust that He will always show me the Truth, even when it is painful. “I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).