Recently, one of the contributors to the Give Your Witness Ministry, Joshua Wilson, wrote a great article about the power of forgiveness. Without question, forgiveness is a powerful thing for a person as forgiveness is more for the inflicted individual than for anyone else and with forgiveness, you get rid of so much and add much to your life including a sense of peace.
There is very little that I can add to Joshua’s article but I do want to build on the role of forgiveness. That is, it extends far beyond other people and does include the individual person which is one battle that I have found difficult to fight and overcome. The situation may include mistakes I’ve made, sins I’ve committed, and/or allowing others to get the best of me in a specific situation.
Maybe I expect more of myself especially with certain people or in specific situations but at the end of the day, I am a human being and have much to learn, still. Despite this fact and despite the fact that I have grown and matured a lot over the last several years, I still find it very difficult at certain times to forgive myself when things do not go right. Personally, it’s much easier to forgive another person of their wrongdoing because I’ve been there and needed that forgiveness.
Honestly, I know that I am not the only one who faces this challenge which is why I wanted to write about this problem. Give Your Witness is more than just quoting from the Bible but it’s also about applying the Bible to our lives which is our witness. There are difficult examples that I can provide whether it’s letting the wrong person borrow money when I knew better or allow someone to waste my time and effort in a respective situation knowing the person’s shady character.
As I write this article and read it back, it probably sounds like the problem involves my ego but I assure you that it is not but I understand why one would perceive it in this manner. Without question, my ego has taken many hits over the years and I have not always responded well but over the last few years, I have learned to put my ego aside because often times, our biggest obstacle is the ego. This has been one of my biggest hurdles to climb which is why God tells us to remove ourselves from our pride.
What I have learned in not forgiving myself for wrongdoing or not seeing through people and/or shady circumstances is the bitterness that holding onto the wrong causes. Forgiveness is a must according to God for many reasons rather than letting bygones be bygones as bitterness and hard feelings impacts a person in many ways including taking away peace and tranquility: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).
Going a bit deeper, studies have shown that people who practice self-forgiveness are happier physically as well as emotionally. More importantly, people who practice self-forgiveness are adhering to God’s Word which is a lesson that I am learning as I go along. For example, we are taught that each person is forgiven by God despite the fact that we fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23) but while we are not deserving of this grace, God provides it to us. Furthermore, we are sinners and nothing that we can do outside of accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior can get us into Heaven as apart from Christ, we are hopeless (John 3:16, Romans 5:6-8). Despite our shortcomings and trespasses against God, we are forgiven and because of his sacrifices for us, we have an opportunity at eternal life.
While I can go on and on about this, I will end here in saying that this has been a true test of my faith. There have been times when the bitterness that I held for myself made me cold and hard which is not of God. God does not want us to go through life bitter at what could have been but I have been in this situation more times than I’d like to admit but thankfully, I serve a big God that does not hold this against me like I hold it against myself: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).