Most of us are troubled by negative emotions from time to time. Emotions like anger, bitterness, jealousy, fear, guilt, doubt, unbelief and guilt. Even when we have the best intentions, they spring up unexpectedly and at the worst possible moments. We end up saying and doing things that are out of character; things that we regret and can’t undo.
These emotions clog our thinking, our relationships and our praying. We can’t think right when these emotions are stopping up our thoughts. We’re tough to live with when we’re touchy, irritable and moody. And, we can’t praise God like we should, when we’re full of these emotions that settle on us like black clouds.
Lack of forgiveness lies at the root of bitterness, envy, guilt, anger and most negative emotions. Holding grudges and fostering anger toward people you feel have wronged you are two of the major causes of stress, ulcers, depression, heart problems, some types of rheumatism and arthritis and even some forms of cancer.
This is why Jesus taught so strongly on the power of forgiveness. In the Lord’s Prayer, in Matthew 6, He taught it like this, “Forgive us our trespasses even as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The phrase “even as” means, “in the same way, or to the same degree” as we forgive others.
In Matthew 6:14-15, He got even more to the point. “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if ye forgive men NOT their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive YOUR trespasses.”
He’s saying we must let go of our anger and resentment. We have to walk away from bitterness, envy and jealousy. We need to stop going over and over those episodes where other people were unfair, thoughtless, demanding or cruel (Philippians 4:8).
You must put your desire to walk with God and have a good testimony above negative feelings you might still be holding towards any other person. Are you willing to forsake those grudges in order to totally follow Jesus?
What you are on the inside comes out. Your outer world is a reflection of what’s going on inside you. That means that you also attract people who live and think and feel like you do. So, if you’re easily offended, quickly hurt and “temperamental,” that’s the kind of people who’ll gravitate to you. Just what you need, right?
That’s why you HAVE to learn how to forgive! Otherwise, you’ll Be a magnet for OTHER negative, grouchy, bitter and angry people! And, you’ll NEVER be happy, healthy or even able to walk closely with God!
If we don’t walk in the path of forgiveness, we’re doomed to wallow in inferiority, inadequacy, resentment and anger. That’s the only 2 choices.
Unforgiveness hinders our praying. Jesus said in Mark 11:25, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your father also who is in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Luke 6:37, He said, “…Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”
Where to start. First off, you need to forgive your parents (Ephesians 6:2). Maybe they’re not still alive, but in your heart, you need to absolve them of every single thing they ever did to hurt you. Forgive them for every time they weren’t fair, were thoughtless or even mean to you. By forgiving them, you’re letting go of the hurts of your childhood and letting the inner you “grow up.”
Many adults, even in their 50’s and 60’s are still in states of emotional pain, because they’ve never forgiven their parents. A lifetime of anger or bitterness is a terrible price for something that you can’t do anything about inn the first place.
One man in his 50’s said that he had a miserable time when his father died, because he never felt he had his dad’s approval. After two years, he mentioned this to his mother. His mom told him to let go of it. She said, “Your dad did the best he could with what he had. The reason he didn’t show you more love is that he didn’t have any more love to give. His family was cold and hard, and what he gave you was all he had.” At that point, the son forgave his dad, and dropped the bitterness he’d felt for more than 40 years.
You know what else? Most of the time, you’re parents aren’t even aware of what they did that still has you upset after all these years. They might not have any memory of it at all. If you tell them why you’re still mad at them, they might be shocked because they have no idea what you’re even talking about!
How to forgive your parents: First, in your heart and in prayer. When anger or bitterness crops up, go into prayer, and say, “God, I forgive him (or her) for everything.” Or, visit, write or phone them. Tell them why you’re bugged, and then say, “I want to let you know that I forgive you for every mistake you made bringing me up, and I forgive you…and love you.”
You don’t become a fully functioning adult or parent until you forgive your parents. Until you forgive them, you’re still a sulking child inside, and incapable of having a mature relationship with your mother and father. “Speaking the truth in love, you may grow up into Him in all things, who is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:15).” The day that you forgive your parents is the best years of your life.
Your brothers and sisters are the next people you need to forgive. Some of us have been nursing grudges for years over the way we were treated by our brothers and sisters. Forgive them for their teasing, mocking and taunting you. They were kids. “Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did to thee evil. (Genesis 50:17).”
Then, there’s all the other people who have hurt you. Schoolteachers, co-workers, people at church, neighbors – every thoughtless, cruel and mean person, you need to forgive, without exception. Let go of the grudge. Drop the anger. Cast off the resentment and bitterness. “Casting your cares on the Lord, for He careth for you. (1 Peter 5:8).”
Refusing to forgive even one person leaves a root of bitterness in your heart that wrecks your chances of full happiness and the joy of the Lord in your life. Hebrews 12:15 says, for us to be at peace with each and every person, “lest any root of bitterness spring up,” and bring trouble to us.
Why be carrying anger, resentment and bad feelings for a person who doesn’t even care about you? While you’re bogged down with your grudge, they’re out there loving life! Drop that grudge, forgive them.
A lot of things we’re bitter about, we got ourselves into. Whether it was a relationship that turned sour, a job that didn’t work out, or an argument we lost. For most of them, we had some choices and said things that made them possible in the first place. So, LET THEM GO. Even if you had no choice, and were a totally innocent victim, you’re still responsible to forgive. Forgiving is so much easier than carrying around your pain, and demonstrating the unfairness of life to all that you meet.
Forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for every stupid, thoughtless thing that you’ve ever done. You’re only human and make mistakes, too. Beating yourself over the head doesn’t help you or the other people in your life and it doesn’t