How many times a loved one has hurt you? How many times a coworker has made you feel bad? How many times someone you sacrificed for has hurt you and will continue to hurt you if allowed? How many times someone had lied about you and made you feel insignificant? How many times? How many times? And the answer will be just as often. But did you also know that you need to forgive these wrongdoers? You may say, Dr. Syverain, “That’s too much than I can bear.” I didn’t say that you need to forget what had happened to you, because your brain may have stamped each moment; but instead, I said forgive those who have hurt you. I did not say either that you must continue getting hurt by such individuals, you may need to place boundaries. Though, you still must forgive. This gospel is hard, who can listen to it? Let’s open our Bible and read, the first word on the cross that Jesus said, Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they do.” A few weeks ago, the world celebrated the death and the resurrection of Christ.
Do you know that many times people hurt others that they really don’t know what they do as Jesus said in Luke 23:34?
The power of Forgiveness-That’s the title of my message. Before we delve into the power of forgiveness, there are two questions that we should first try answering. 1. Why do people hurt others? 2. What happens when we negatively respond to hurt?
A) Why do people Hurt Others? (Reading verses) of course, sin has a lot to do with it.
Ephesians 4:31-32, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
There are many reasons why people may hurt other people, and the motivations (motives) can be complex and varied. Some of the common reasons include:
1. Anger and frustration: People may lash out and hurt others when they are feeling angry or frustrated. They may feel like they have been wronged somehow, and they take out their feelings on others.
2. Jealousy and envy: When people feel like they are not getting what they want, they may become jealous or envious of others who have what they desire. This can lead to resentment and a desire to hurt those people.
3. Mental illness: Some people who hurt others may have underlying mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or personality disorders, contributing to their behavior.
4. Power and control: Some individuals may hurt others to exert power and control over them. This can be in the context of domestic violence or bullying (intimidation), for example.
5. Lack of empathy: Some people may lack empathy for others and therefore do not understand or care about the impact of their actions on others.
It’s important to note that these are just a few possible reasons, and each situation is unique. Understanding the reasons behind someone’s behavior can be complicated, and it’s important to seek help if you or someone you know is experiencing harm from others.
B) Our negative response to hurts? What happens when we negatively respond to hurt?
Having an Unforgiving Soul leads to many social ills.
Jesus says in Mark 11:25-26, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.
Having an unforgiving soul can lead to many social ills; because, it creates a cycle of anger, resentment, and conflict that can damage relationships and communities. When we hold onto grudges and refuse to forgive others, it can create a toxic environment that fosters negativity and division. Here are some reasons why an unforgiving soul can lead to social ills:
- It creates a culture of anger and aggression: When we hold onto anger and resentment towards others, it can create a culture of aggression and hostility. This can lead to conflicts and disputes that can escalate and become violent.
2. It damages relationships: When we refuse to forgive others, it can damage our relationships with them. It can create a rift (rupture) between us that can be difficult to repair, leading to long-term damage to friendships, families, communities, and nations.
3. It breeds revenge and retaliation: When we refuse to forgive others, it can create a desire for revenge and retaliation. This can perpetuate a cycle of conflict and harm that can escalate over time.
4. It can lead to mental and emotional distress: Holding onto anger and resentment can lead to mental and emotional distress, including stress, anxiety, and depression. This can have a negative impact on our overall well-being and can even lead to physical health problems.
5. It can prevent personal growth: When we refuse to forgive others, it can prevent us from learning and growing from our experiences humanely and spiritually. Forgiveness allows us to let go of the past and move forward, while an unforgiving soul can keep us trapped in a negative mindset. That happened to me before and thanks God, I am reminded not to let myself be trapped in hurtful feelings, ruminating about all the wrongs people did to me.
In summary, having an unforgiving soul can lead to many social ills, because it creates a culture of anger and aggression, damages relationships, breeds revenge and retaliation, leads to mental and emotional distress, and prevents personal growth. It is important to cultivate forgiveness in our hearts in order to build healthy relationships and create a more positive and peaceful society.
C) The Power of Forgiveness
The Bible says to forgive your enemy, in Luke 6:27-28, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate, bless those who curse, pray for those who mistreat you.”
As we can see or listen to, the Gospel of Forgiveness is hard, but its power is everlasting. Because Love is eternal as we read in 1 Corinthians 13:13, But God knows that and He asks that we practice it. Certainly! Forgiveness is a central theme in the Bible, and there are many passages that speak to the importance of forgiving others as God has forgiven us.
When we look at the parable of the Unforgiving Debtor, Jesus made it clear to us of what it means if we don’t forgive. Let’s open our Bible in the book of Matthew 18:21-35, this is The Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor.
Forgiveness is one of the most powerful acts of love we can offer one another. It can be difficult to forgive those who have hurt us, but it is essential if we are to live in peace with one another and with God. Forgiveness is not just about letting go of our anger or bitterness; it is about opening ourselves up to the healing power of God’s grace.
In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus tells us, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
These words remind us that forgiveness is not just a nice thing to do, it is a commandment from God.
We see this theme repeated throughout the Bible. In Colossians 3:13, Paul writes, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” And in Ephesians 4:32, he says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Forgiveness is not always easy, but it is always necessary. When we forgive, we release ourselves from the burden of anger and resentment that can weigh us down. We open ourselves up to the love and grace of God, which can heal even the deepest wounds. What sins aren’t you going to forgive? Adultery? Lying? Stealing? While we should all strive not to do those things, how many times have we committed these sins against God? Do we always pay all our tithes to God as the book of Malachi says? How many times have we committed spiritual adultery against God in being unfaithful to Him, in worshipping this world and the people instead of God, as we read in James 4:4, 4 You adulterous people,[a] don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. We all have committed these things against God and we need forgiveness from him. In the same way, we all should forgive one another for a healthier church, a harmonious family, a God-fearing society, and a more abounding community. Where forgiveness reigns there is a smile on every face and fear is replaced with abundant love!
So if you are struggling to forgive someone today, I encourage you to turn to God in prayer. Ask Him to help you let go of your anger and bitterness, and to fill your heart with His love and grace. And remember the words of Jesus, who said, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20. Some people say that they aren’t so sure that they can forgive. If that’s the case, how can you expect to see God or be with Him?
With God’s help, you can forgive even the most difficult offenses, and experience the freedom and joy that come from living in His love.
Forgiveness is not only a spiritual practice, but it also has a powerful impact on mental health and emotional well-being. Research has shown that forgiveness can lead to reduced anxiety, depression, and anger, and can improve self-esteem and relationship satisfaction.
Here are some examples of the healing power of forgiveness in psychology, along with some relevant quotes:
Forgiveness reduces stress: When we hold onto anger and resentment, it can create a constant state of stress in our bodies. Forgiveness can help to reduce stress and anxiety by lowering cortisol levels, which can improve our overall health, sleep, stronger immune system, and lower blood pressure; it reduces the risk of heart disease. As psychologist Everett Worthington has said, “When we forgive, we take back control of our emotional state and reduce stress levels.”
Forgiveness improves mental health: Studies have found that people who are more forgiving tend to have better mental health outcomes, including reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. As psychologist Frederic Luskin has said in his book Forgive for Good, “Forgiveness is a skill that can help you navigate life’s challenges with greater ease and resilience.”
Forgiveness improves relationships: When we hold onto grudges or refuse to forgive, it can create a barrier between us and the people we care about. Forgiveness can help to repair damaged relationships and improve communication. As author, Marianne Williamson has said, “Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.”
Forgiveness leads to personal growth: it increases happiness and well-being. When we forgive, we let go of the past and open ourselves up to new possibilities. Forgiveness can help us to grow and learn from our experiences, and to become more compassionate and empathetic. As author Lewis B. Smedes has said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner is you.”
Forgiveness leads to eternal life. It makes it possible to partake in the love of God in forgiveness. If you have forfeited a debt, can you go back and ask that person for the money? Of course not, because you have already told the person that the debt is forgiven. It is the same thing, once you forgive please don’t go back and repeat to the person his wrongdoings or what he or she did to you.
In summary, we see that those who hurt us may have myriad reasons why they hurt others. Though, no reason is acceptable for hurting others. They have anger and frustration, Jealousy and envy, Mental Illness, Power and control, Lack of Empathy, etc.
When we don’t forgive these people, what can happen to us:
A cycle of Anger, Resentment, Aggression, Conflict, Lashing out, Revenge and Retaliation, damaged relationships, infidelity, Mental and Emotional Distress leading to Health problems, and Prevent Personal Growth (God doesn’t allow us to go through certain trials without strength to cope, which is why we must depend totally on God.)
On the other hand, we have the power to control the outcome and the narrative in giving those who hurt others Forgiveness. Forgiveness is not always easy, but it is worth it. When we forgive we set the prisoner free and the prisoner is us!
Forgiveness has a powerful impact on our mental health and emotional well-being. By letting go of anger and resentment, we can reduce stress, improve relationships, and experience personal growth. As the Bible says in Colossians 3:13, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Milliardaire Syverain, M.D.