‘I Forgive You’ – These 3 Words Can Break Down Walls, Change Atmospheres, and Heal Relationships
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:)
Three words can change the course of a person’s life: “I forgive you.” There is something so freeing in internalizing and vocalizing these words—walls break down, the atmosphere shifts, and relationships can heal through the power of God. Days or maybe even years of haboring unforgiveness are released as the anger, resentment, and bitterness loses the control that it once had in a person’s heart. At some point in our lives, we all have or will experience the hurt of rejection or mistreatment by others. If we can have an honest, transparent conversation, it can be a daily dying of self to forgive those that mistreat us, especially when the wound goes deep.
One reason we may have a hard time letting go of an offense is that we may think it excuses the person’s behavior. Forgiveness does not put a stamp of approval on someone’s wrong actions. It releases the offense so that our hearts can remain soft and tender before the Lord. Although there may be times God shows us we need to walk away from unhealthy situations or relationships, we can still forgive the offender(s) through the power of God as we move forward in obedience. It is choice…A choice that God can help us make and strengthen us to do.
Forgiveness is Like an Eagle
A beautiful and breathtaking image of forgiveness is an eagle in flight. This majestic creature soars with wings fully extended, as it lets the wind currents propel it upward. The bird looks almost effortless as it glides through the air with such grace. It is inspirational. Unlike the majority of birds which fly away from storms, eagles go directly towards them and utilize the wind currents.
The eagle flies the highest when it faces a storm head on and uses those winds to its advantage. We as believers can learn from this image and allow the wind of the Holy Spirit to help us “rise above” the circumstances that we face and the hurt that we may feel. When we release the emotions and the unforgiveness that weigh us down, God can help us fly higher and go farther than we have ever dreamed.
Joseph: Forgiving the Unforgiveable
Just look at the life of Joseph. After the mistreatment and the rejection he endured from his own brothers and the false accusation/imprisonment by Potiphar’s wife, this man of God chose to forgive. He endured and overcame with the help of the Lord, and God promoted him as second-in-command to Pharaoh. When Joseph finally saw his brothers face-to-face, he was able to say to them with all sincerity, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20). Like Joseph, whether the people who mistreat us apologize or not, we can lay the offenses at the feet of Jesus, move forward, and know that He is working on our behalf.
As we come to the place where we realize we need to release our hurt and forgive, God gives us reminders in His Word to enable us to “rise above”:
1) Focus on the example of Jesus.
He willingly died for us, so that we could have the opportunity to have eternal life. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) This verse is an incredible reminder of the love that He has for mankind. When we struggle to forgive, we must remember that Jesus forgives us. The Lord does not bring up our past mistakes and remind us of our failures, He casts our sins as far as the east is from the west when we repent from our sins (Psalm 103:12).
2) Pray for those who mistreat you.
Matthew 5:44 says, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” It increases spiritual maturity to take the higher road. One example is the biblical figure, Job, a godly man of integrity. Even though his friends questioned whether he had sinned against God because he had lost everything, Job still prayed for them. “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10)
3) Be a peacemaker.
Being a peacemaker and a forgiver go hand-in-hand. The Bible says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 5:18) “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
When we have a higher perspective like that of the eagle, we realize that although the Lord does not condone evil or wrong actions, He can miraculously turn it around to not only strengthen us but to use it for our good and His glory. As we realize that our Heavenly Father cares deeply about the pain we feel and that He can heal our wounds, we can release the offenses to Him. God’s strength can help us “rise above” like the eagle and soar over the circumstances we face into the destinies He has planned for us. Let’s not be weighted down, friends. Let’s encourage each other to “fly high” through the power of the Holy Spirit and “be free.”
“Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)