Do not take the poison of bitterness, unforgiveness
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32
Unforgiveness, they say, is as poison to the one who harbours it. A belief that is strongly supported in Matthew 18 of the Bible, which encourages us to pardon our offenders at all times, lest we be punished.
Joining the conversation, popular Christian author and speaker Joyce Meyer, who heads the Joyce Meyer Ministries, has shared that many people ruin their health and lives by taking the poison of bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness.
Describing the hateful state as a self-imposed torture, the minister shared her personal experience of how beneficial it is when you choose to let go.
“I always saw forgiving people who hurt me as being really hard. It seemed so unfair for them to receive forgiveness when I had gotten hurt. I got pain, and they got freedom without having to pay for the pain they caused. Now I realise that I’m helping myself when I choose to forgive. I’m happier and feel better physically when I’m not filled with the poison of unforgiveness,” Meyer said.
She added: “I’m also helping the other person by releasing them so God can do what only He can do. If I’m in the way — trying to take revenge or take control of the situation myself— God has no obligation to deal with that person. However, if we trust God and choose to forgive, He will take care of the rest. See, the act of forgiving is our seed of obedience to His Word. Once we’ve sown our seed, He is faithful to bring a harvest of blessing to us one way or another.”
While total pardon is godly and encouraged, it is true that it doesn’t always come easily, especially given the measure of hurt one was subject to.
However, Meyer shared what she described as God-inspired practical steps that can be taken to be successful at forgiving others.
According to her, “One time I asked the Lord why so many people want to forgive but aren’t successful doing it. And He said, “Because they aren’t obeying what I tell them to do in My Word.”
As I searched the Word, I found the following instructions:
1. Decide – You will never forgive if you wait until you feel like it. Choose to obey God and steadfastly resist the Devil in his attempts to poison you with bitter thoughts. Make a quality decision to forgive, and God will heal your wounded emotions in due time (Matthew 6:12-14).
2. Depend – You cannot forgive without the power of the Holy Spirit. It is too hard to do on your own. If you are truly willing, God will enable you, but you must humble yourself and cry out to Him for help. In John 20:22-23, Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit!” His next instruction was about forgiving people. Ask God to breathe the Holy Spirit on you so you can forgive those who have hurt you.
3. Obey – The Word tells us several things we are to do concerning forgiving our enemies:
a. Pray for your enemies and those who abuse and misuse you. Pray for their happiness and welfare (Luke 6:27-28). As you pray, God can give them revelation that will bring them out of deception. They may not even be aware that they hurt you, or maybe they are aware but are so self-centred that they don’t care. Either way, they need revelation.
b. … Bless and do not curse them (Romans 12:14). In Greek, to bless means “to speak well of” and to curse means “to speak evil of”. You can’t walk in forgiveness and be a gossip. You must stop repeating the offence. You can’t get over it if you continue to talk about it. Proverbs 17:9 says that “he who covers an offence seeks love”.