My father was abusive when I was growing up. When he died, I wasn’t going to attend his funeral but my husband, Earl, insisted I go. Before the service, I walked back and forth from a pew to Dad’s open casket crying violently.
“Why didn’t I ever tell him how much he hurt me!”
After his funeral, I felt purged of anger and hatred toward him.
I was wrong.
Thirteen years later Earl and I attended a marriage seminar called Steps to Setting Your Marriage Free in Christ (Neil T. Anderson). Going in, we each believed we had a good marital relationship. As we worked through the many issues raised, and as we prayed and asked God to show us the truth, we found ourselves discovering things about each other as well as identifying things within ourselves.
God revealed to me a lifetime of rage, anger, hurt and unforgiveness toward my earthly father. Until then I hadn’t realized how much Dad had harmed my emotions and my spirit. The tears came again, though not violently this time. They were cleansing, relieving, and Earl cried with me. We cried for how all my anger and hatred had tarnished our marriage for thirteen years. When I forgave Daddy that day I felt a peace I had never known before.
Often we don’t recognize the unforgiveness within us. We justify our attitudes. A part of making sure our life is clean and right before God has to do with forgiving other people.
Everything we do in life has eternal value that hinges on two things: loving God and loving others. It’s hard to forgive those who have hurt, offended, or mistreated us, but God wants us to love even our enemies and in the process of doing so He perfects us.
God wants you to move into all He has for you. But, if you don’t forgive you’re stuck where you are and shutting off God’s work in your life. Forgiveness opens your heart and mind and allows the Holy Spirit to work freely in you. It releases you to love God more and feel His love in greater measure.
If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive them their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:14-15).
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matthew 22:37-40).
In Christ Alone,