Matthew 18:21-22 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
21 Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
I will be the first to admit that there are several people in my life that I struggle with. As Christians, we are to love and pray for everyone, but I battle with that as well. Before I start to pray for them, I must beg God to give me special graces, and for the prayer to come from my heart. Forgiveness is mentioned in the Bible numerous times, yet we all have to work to attain this objective.
Every day I attempt to obey the Lord, but every day I fall short. So I started to take a better look at myself, a self-examination, as I asked myself what I can do to become a better person, a better servant. I realize that truly forgiving others is the first step. We are either on the road to heaven or hell and along the way are many pit stops, warning signs from God: dead end, falling rocks, wrong way, go back, or no outlet. These signs symbolize that we need to analyze our direction. Unforgiveness is the biggest roadblock, and if you get stuck there, you fall into the habit of being the victim who has been wronged.
26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun set on your anger, 27 and do not leave room for the devil.
The Biggest Roadblock
I mentioned earlier that I have to beg, yes beg, God for special graces to get through some difficult situations with people that hold you captive to their unforgiveness. This type of spirit is not from the Lord because God does not operate like that. It is a spirit of control that allows the person on the other end to remain in the state of unforgiveness. Forgiveness does not always happen simultaneously; some people are wired to hold on to things longer. Anyone that comes from a large family understands that no two children are ever alike. But in the kingdom of God, His children are all made in His image. God has no favorites; in His eyes, no one is treated better than anyone else. I can only use myself as an example: I can’t add to save my life, I struggle to follow a recipe, and even with a calendar, I still get my dates all mixed up. That is what I have to deal with, but on the other hand, God gave me other gifts, gifts that I am fine tuning, and I understand that it may take a lifetime to master them. If we could understand all the gifts God has for us, we would be that much closer to attaining sainthood. God will only give us what He determines we can be trusted with. Unforgiveness blocks your giftings, because you are in an emotional state of sin.
Matthew 6:14-15 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
14 If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.15 But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgression
When someone hurts me or a loved one, I become angry toward that person. My thoughts are consumed with the pain that the person caused. I have a dialogue with other people in regard to this, my mind is constantly on that person, how hateful his or her behavior was and how it affected me. This can go on for days, or until I come to my senses. The last time this happened, I could not shake it off on my own. I made an appointment with my priest for confession. It was through this session that I was able to move on and forgive. When the thought of the incident popped into my head, I’d say a prayer for healing of my emotions and pray for that person.
We cannot allow unforgiveness to take hold of our spirit because it causes our hearts to become hardened. It is a sin to hold on to these feelings because once you give in to unforgiveness, the Devil has control. This sin gives the Devil a foothold. When the Devil grabs you by the foot, he reaches for the rest of you. He affirms your causes, feeding you with pathetic lies so you retain the mindset of unforgiveness. Once the Devil has control, the situation becomes about “you” and how deeply you were wounded. The Devil is a expert in making us feel wronged because he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). He is also the accuser of our brothers (Rev 12:10). He incites our resentment and nurses our wounds, reducing us to self-pity. When we reach this point, our emotions and thoughts are no longer ours: we become imprisoned by the offense. Our emotions now switch to revenge, and in order to protect our brokenness, our resentment takes control, so we give in to the sin of unforgiveness. When this happens, we are walking around with a dark cloud over us, and we can’t see it because the cloud obstructs our spiritual vision.
Acts 26:18 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
18 to open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may obtain forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been consecrated by faith in me.’
I have developed the habit of praying until I feel a release from this negative emotion. Sometimes I get a sign from God to confirm that the prayer has been answered. It is such a relief to be freed from unforgiveness. Forgiveness is an open door to all that God has in store for you. Forgiveness also frees the other person you have been holding captive. If the offense was committed by a toxic person, forgive that person and free yourself of that relationship. Like the words from the famous Disney song, “Frozen,” “Let it go!” God will repair your broken heart, but don’t take a lifetime to reach for the rope to pull yourself out of that rut. Satan will do everything in his power to sabotage all your relationships. He comes to rob, kill and destroy; this is his purpose on earth. I leave you with the universal prayer:
Matthew 6:9-13 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
The Lord’s Prayer. 9 “This is how you are to pray”:
Our Father in heaven,[b]
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,[c]
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
11 [d]Give us today our daily bread;
12 and forgive us our debts,[e]
as we forgive our debtors;
13 and do not subject us to the final test,[f]
but deliver us from the evil one.
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