If you’ve downloaded my PDF Five Things You Can Do To Experience More Joy Right Now, you know that number five is to forgive yourself and forgive others. After watching The Shack last night, God put it on my heart that there are a lot of people out there that need to realize just how important forgiveness is. There are way to many scriptures on forgiveness to list them all, but I’d like to share a few of my favorites. The first two come straight from Jesus’ mouth. These are from my Living Bible Translation:

Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive you those that sin against you; but if you refuse to forgive them, He will not forgive you. Matthew 6:14

But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive you your sins too. Mark 11:25

Paul expounds on forgiveness in the following scriptures:

Instead be kind to each other, tenderhearted and, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ. Ephesians 4:32

Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember the Lord forgave you so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13

These four verses are very clear about forgiving others. However, if you haven’t forgiven yourself of your own iniquities, you won’t be able to forgive others. You can’t give away what you don’t have. If you haven’t seen the movie The Shack or read the book, I suggest you do both. Without giving too much away and ruining it for you, I will say that a man’s anger and guilt consumed him and almost took his life.

Anger, bitterness and unforgiveness eat away at your soul. So how do you rid yourself of those terrible feelings that sometimes consume you? How do you forgive people that have done heinous things to you, and those you love, when you don’t believe they deserve your forgiveness? First of all you have to remember what God has forgiven you for. That doesn’t mean rehashing the sins you’ve committed, beating yourself up and feeling bad. It means that you need to accept the fact that you have been forgiven of a lot, and so you must do the same. If you haven’t asked God to forgive you, given your guilt and condemnation to Him, and accepted His forgiveness, you can’t possibly forgive others.

Forgiving yourself and others was number five on my “things to do to experience more joy list,” but it’s probably the most important step in attaining true happiness. My hope and prayer is that everyone who reads this, will search their hearts for unforgiveness, first and foremost for yourself, and secondly for others. Hating someone is like taking poison and hoping that the other person will die. Why don’t you exercise some forgiveness today and see what a difference it can make in your life. I will guarantee you that your joy will raise a new level. When you forgive your heart softens and you find it easier to forgive which leads to less heartache and more happiness. Come on now, give it a try. I dare you.

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