Recently I had a very kind and spiritual minded lady in Christ ask me what to do when she was harboring ill feelings toward another and it was very difficult for her to let go of it. I could see it was weighing on her heart and she wanted to be free but there was something else I noticed. I asked her if she really wanted to give it up. After a brief pause, tears filled her eyes and she quietly spoke, "no." I asked her why and then the truth came out, "I am afraid if I forgive this individual, they will hurt me again!" She is probably right, knowing the history between her and this other person but that's not the issue.
Too many are professing their faith in Jesus but holding to resentments and bitterness in their hearts toward others who have hurt them. If the cross of Christ is the center of our lives, how can we not see that we will probably hurt Him again? Yet, if our heart is repentant and soft, what does the Lord do? He forgives and He forgives completely! The word forgive means "to cast away." Micah speaks of God, "...yes, You will cast all their sins into the depth of the seas." (Micah 7:19). What a wonderful thought. The covenant we are under, which we proclaim each first day of the week in the Supper speaks to us: "For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." (Heb. 8;12) What are we under that covenant for?
Let's take this one step further. If one is holding in their heart some bitterness, resentful, ill feeling toward another, it might not be seen except by the eyes of the Lord. When Jesus was teaching about prayer, one thing has to be made certain between us and God: "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." (Matt. 6:12) Did you get the past tense "also have forgiven?" God is searching and seeing our heart when we pray. He sees the sincerity of words from a heart that has been cleansed by the blood of Christ. If there is any bitterness or ill will held to, forget prayer. I know that's a little straight but that is what Jesus was saying. How can we, who have been cleansed over and over by the blood of Christ not extend that same love toward another who has hurt us? Something is wrong in the heart.
"For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions." (Matt. 6:14-15)