Written by Audrey E. Charles
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. – Luke 23:34
Unforgiveness is often a major stronghold in the minds and hearts of believers and unbelievers alike. The mind, will and emotions like to hold on to the wrongs that were done, replaying them over and over in one way or another. Very often these memories lie dormant, hidden in the recesses of your mind until something similar in nature happens.....and you react.
Have you ever thought you had forgiven someone only to have that memory triggered, and you feel the twinge of uneasiness or pain again? That is an indication there is still some work to be done in that area.
Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a decision. It is the doorway, so to speak, through which all other things in your relationship with the Lord must come. Without forgiveness it is impossible to have right relationship with the Father. He forgave you of all that you have done, are doing and ever will do.
In forgiving someone you give up the right to be right. You release your offender from any obligation to make it up to you. How do you do that? Let’s examine Jesus’ choice of words.
“Father, forgive them…”
Because the Father’s life is already the powerfully limitless life, He can forgive in a way that you may not yet be able to. God will not do anything that you don’t ask Him to do, so in essence you ask the Father to extend His forgiveness on your behalf in a particular area. You can then release the offenders and yourself from the burden of the offense. You no longer are affected by the “nail” of unforgiveness.
“…for they know not what they do.” – This is the key to forgiveness.
There is a saying that ‘hurting people hurt people’. People hurt others because they themselves had been hurt. Think of your offender as a wounded animal, bruised by the pain of some past offense – whether real or perceived. When a wounded animal is backed into a corner – when it has to face the reality of its own vulnerability – it strikes out at whomever or whatever is closest. This is the way it tries to convince itself that it still has some modicum of control. It is the same with hurting people. Hurting people are in survival mode...flesh-dominated and not spirit-led...so their mind, will and emotions are in control.
People hurt others because they don’t fully understand who God is, or who they are. Genesis 1:26 tells us that God created all mankind in His image and in His likeness. You have your parents’ physical DNA imprinted in you, so you look like and act like them in many ways. Similarly, if you are a Christian, you have God’s DNA embedded in you. The characteristics of God are a part of your make up. It is when you don’t recognize this truth that you malfunction in your thoughts, attitudes and actions.
Are you willing to do as Jesus did and ask the Father to forgive? In doing so, you deny your flesh the right to have its own way. Be cautioned that your flesh will not submit without a fight for its right to survive in this area. It may lie dormant for a while, and then arise again at an unexpected time, showing up as anger, depression, resentment, feeling overwhelmed or some other negative emotion. But if you are willing, the Father will enable you to tell your flesh, “Be quiet!” when the temptation to hold a grudge presents itself.
Will you take the time now to quietly ask the Father to bring back to your remembrance any offenders that you have not been able to completely release in forgiveness? Then ask Him to forgive them. In doing that you will have taken the first step out of the flesh-dominated life and into the limitless life that Jesus always intended for you to have.