The Healing Power of Genuine Forgiveness

Releasing Your Soul from the Burden of Bitterness.

Let me ask you a tough question: Is there someone you need to forgive? Someone in your family? A parent . . . a sibling . . . your spouse? Or possibly someone in your congregation . . . an elder or deacon?

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What keeps you from taking the initiative and making things right?

How long have you allowed the resentment to fester? My friend, you and I both know that harboring bitterness can have lasting and devastating effects on you, your family, and your ministry.

Understanding God’s Perspective

God desires that you and I be free of an unforgiving spirit. Consider carefully these penetrating words from Hebrews 12:15 (NLT):

Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

The problem with bitterness is that it not only troubles you, it brings distress to those around you, often those you love and care about the most.

That’s why an unforgiving spirit is so unacceptable in the body of Christ, especially when it takes root in the heart of a pastor who is called to serve and love God’s people.

Look closely—and I mean very closely—at the words of both our Lord Jesus and the apostle Paul:

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. . . . For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions (Matthew 6:12, 14–15).

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).

The Need to Reconcile

Perhaps you’ve been injured by a cantankerous elder or even the entire board as they have insisted on undermining your ability to bring about much-needed change in the ministry. Or maybe there is a staff member who has spoken against you.

His words were not spoken directly to you, but you’ve heard about it through the proverbial “grapevine.” And instead of confronting the source, you’ve allowed the report of that apparent misdeed to eat away at you and steal your joyfulness to serve.

May I offer some personal advice? Whatever the source or cause, let it go and forgive.

If you don’t, the bitterness will grow into a cancer-like tumor which will eventually metastasize and threaten your entire ministry.

If this hits close to home, friend, I urge you to let this be a turning point for you . . . today. Bring your resentment and bitterness first to the Lord and ask for His grace and forgiveness. Then, if necessary, go to the person who has hurt you.

But go with humility and offer forgiveness to them in Christ’s name. I assure you, once you surrender your bitterness with the help of the Holy Spirit, the freedom you’ll experience will know no bounds!

You’ll feel the immediate lifting of that enormous burden that held you down for so long.

Won’t that be worth whatever it takes to rid your soul once and for all of this anger? Yes! It will be, indeed!

If you need help, I suggest you find a mature believer–a friend you trust–to join you in prayer for healing.

You may even need the help of a professional Christian counselor. The point is you must be willing to do whatever is necessary to remove the bitterness.

By the way, no one is more willing or able to walk with you down this path of healing than the Lord Jesus. His invitation is for you and for me, regardless of the depth of our need. Remember His words:

Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:28, NLT).

Go ahead . . . take Him up on that offer. You will never regret it. I promise you.


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