“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
In my prayers to the Lord, seeking His will for people who I know, the curse from the enemy called unforgiveness comes up so often. Many times, as the Lord reveals what I should pray for, the basis for a condition or an attitude is revealed to stem from an incident that either wronged the person or the person wronged someone else, and forgiveness has never been sought. It may be that the pain is too great to overcome. Or it may be that the person is full of too much pride and bitterness. But the weight of darkness that is carried by an unforgiving person is so great that it weighs one down to even be around them.
A man who I pray for is the kind of man who you would never want at a party. He blames everyone for his problems. He tells inappropriate jokes. He tells about his stripper friends and how he gives them gifts, even though he is very poor. He cannot keep any friends because he always discovers a reason to blame them for something. And the rumors abound about his deviance. His wife and daughter have left him, and his aging mother is in very bad shape but he refuses to put her in a home or hire a nurse. It turns out that he was given up for adoption by people in the community when he was old enough to remember it, and they have never come forward as his parents. For them, he does not exist. He has never forgiven his parents. This has eaten away inside him all his life, and made ample doorways for the evil one to walk right in.
I also pray for three young women whom the church community knows have been abused by older male relatives. The difference between the young women before and after this black sin that is not their fault is tremendous. Outgoing, cheerful attitudes disappear. Fear and extreme shyness creep in. They whisper to their father or mother and never face anyone. In many ways these young women have had their lives cut off by the betrayal and denial of their existence that comes from this abuse. The only way that they will be free is if they can truly forgive their attackers, and accept the love of Jesus that tells them that it is not their sin. This emotional and carnal sin deeply hurts and confuses the person, and only God can release the bondage through complete forgiveness.
The unforgiveness may not even be as dramatic as these examples. For example, before we had language, our parents may have done many things that we suffered under. When we become adults, we hold a “grudge” against our parents for reasons we may not even understand because we cannot describe it. In order to be free and pure we need to find a way to forgive our parents for all the things they had to do while raising us.
The other kind of forgiveness involves ourselves. We cannot forgive ourselves, but Jesus has the power to forgive sins. We have to go to Jesus in all meekness and give our sins to his cleansing blood, and his intercession with our Father in Heaven. The unforgiveness of ourselves can create so much physical and emotional damage inside us. We can wreck our backs or develop depression or even get sick from the stress. That is why Jesus taught his disciples to include both the forgiveness of us, and the forgiveness of those who sinned against us. We pray for forgiveness but often keep mulling over the details that drag us down.
Jesus seeks to give us a peaceful and joyous life. No matter what he asks us to do and where he asks us to go, that peace and joy will follow us, along with the hope of eternal life. In order to keep from collecting baggage that does not belong in Heaven, we have to work at finding everything in our lives where we have an issue that involves forgiveness, and give it to the Lord in prayer, every day.