I don't think it is a stretch to say that personal conflict is part of every day in every life. If you have two people, you will eventually have conflict. There are currently 7.5 billion people on the planet. You do the math. There are many elements to conflict. It would be impossible to deal with every element in one devotional, so this one will look at unforgiveness. Regardless of whether the offense is real or imagined, one of the worst things that comes from the situation is something we call unforgiveness.
Unforgiveness is the intentional act of not forgiving a person for a wrong. (It can also be withholding forgiveness from someone for a perceived wrong. That sounds strange, but you can believe someone wronged you when they didn't, and in the process, hold bad feelings toward that person, expecting them to apologize for something they never actually did.) If forgiveness is letting go of the right to hold someone guilty for something they did to you, unforgiveness is not letting go of that right to hold them guilty. But unforgiveness is not just neglecting to let it go. It is a decision to not let it go.
When someone hurts us, our natural defenses go up with our sense of justice. Everyone has a sense of right and wrong, even if it isn't grounded in the Bible or a relationship with God. We don't like it when people hurt us. When it happens, we determine that the hurt will only go so far. The way we try to stop the hurt is by holding the hurt against them. Now, in God's view, people are personally responsible for whatever hurt they cause. No excuses. He is the ultimate scorekeeper. But since He is the perfect scorekeeper, He tells us that we aren't to keep score. We are not to hold things against people. We are not to hurt them back by withholding forgiveness.
As Christians, we are to exhibit the nature of our Father, God. God has been wronged by everyone who has ever lived. Yet, that holy God who never wronged anyone, and has the ultimate right to hold our wrongs against us has chosen to let it go. He forgives freely. So if a God who has the right to withhold forgiveness does not, what does that mean for us who have actually hurt many people ourselves? Well, the Bible is full of teaching that tells us we must forgive. I won't list them all here. I will just reference one.
"Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful." Colossians 3:12-15
We are to forgive because the Lord forgave us. The fact is, that should be enough. But Scripture is full of such commands. I dare you to go to www.BibleGateway.com and search the word 'forgive'. Letting go of the right to hold someone guilty is counterintuitive to our fallen nature. But it is a core element of our new nature in Christ.
Unforgiveness hurts us more than it hurts the person who wronged us. Why? Because we are sinning against the other person, and ourselves, and God at the same time. Unforgiveness has been described as drinking a bottle of poison in the hopes that the other person will die. Often times the offending party doesn't even know you are not forgiving them. Unforgiveness does not hold them accountable. It holds you in a prison. Forgiveness is not as much about setting the other offender free, but setting you... the offended offender free. It has been said that forgiveness is like a dungeon where the lock is on the inside and you have the key.
Satan has tricked us into thinking that unforgiveness is an expression of justice. But God didn't make us ambassadors of justice in this world. He made us ambassadors of reconciliation.
"And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, 'Come back to God!' For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ." (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)
Forgiveness may be the most powerful weapon we have against sin. Forgiveness is one way to bridge the gap between the sinner and the Savior. Afterall, it is exactly what the Father used through Christ. No one ever came to Christ through unforgiveness. No one ever repaired or restored a relationship through unforgiveness. But I have seen broken marriages, families, churches, and communities mended because someone stepped up and forgave those who had wronged them. Unforgiveness is not a key that opens the door to reconciliation. It is a dagger that continually stabs the heart of the one who holds it.
Today you will have the opportunity to forgive or not forgive. Forgiving doesn't change the other person. It just means that you won't allow their wrong to keep you from being right. Practice forgiveness one hurt at a time and watch healing become the pattern for your life.
This is an absolutely free resource. If you would like to support us, you can give via the above link.
My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.