Jeanne Takenaka

Why is forgiveness important?

Can I be honest and say, God’s had to talk to me (ahem, a lot) about not being quick to forgive? In 2016, I was a mess. I was dealing with physical issues, mental thought processes, and spiritual stiltedness. I had a relationship with God, and I was growing. But, I also had a blind spot: unforgiveness.

In the midst of a particularly difficult season, God got my attention. Long story short, He showed me I was holding onto hurts people had inflicted from my childhood to present day. And holding onto those things fed a bitterness that was eating me up, in every sense of the word.

Flower remains in winter—symbolic of how empty we may feel when we don't understand why is forgiveness important

What is Forgiveness

How do you define forgiveness? Two definitions I’ve heard are: 

“Forgiveness is giving up the right to get even.” 

And, 

From Merriam-Webster: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) or the desire to punish; to pardon the offense or the offender.

Forgiveness is an act of the will. It doesn’t just happen in our hearts. We either choose to forgive, or we choose to hold onto the hurt inflicted. Forgiveness is an intentional choice we make again and again . . . and again. 

When someone hurts us, that pain often impacts many aspects of who we are. It takes time and intentionality to allow God to undo the impact of the offense we’ve endured. 

God gives us the choice to forgive. Or not. Our decisions about forgiveness make us free or take us captive. 

Why Is Forgiveness Important? Here are 8 Reasons—Our decisions about forgiveness make us free or take us captive #tellhisstory #choosingforgiveness Click To Tweet
Meme that says, "Our decisions about forgiveness make us free or take us captive." on a backdrop of an image with a rock and a few pinecones on a dirt path in autumn

Why is Forgiveness Important?

How many of us have never—ever—hurt another person, much less God? Hint: only one perfect Person ever walked this earth . . . and we are not Him. 

God forgave our every sin before we ever offered Him our hearts. Because He loves us, He sent His Son, Jesus, to live among men. 

Most of us know the story. But think about it—Jesus, who never once sinned, gave his life for us: people filled to the brim with sin. 

Jesus shed His blood so we could know God’s forgiveness and love. He didn’t set conditions. Who else is capable of loving us that way? 

No. One.

Image of a path with dead leaves and fall colors in the background. When we understand why is forgiveness important we can walk on a path toward freedom

Because of Jesus’ gift of His life for ours, we can know God’s forgiveness. Why then, would we feel justified withholding forgiveness from others? Yes, some of us have faced grave injustices, violating offenses against our bodies, our psyches, and our souls. 

And Jesus has made the gift of forgiveness available to those offenders too. 

Grasping this truth is hard. Humbling. Even painful. But God, who gave His Son for us, expects us to forgive others as we’ve been forgiven. 

The Truth About Forgiveness

Here’s the thing: God loves us in spite of the fact we sin against Him. There’s never a sin so great he can’t forgive. In turn, we must choose to forgive others. Many verses in the Bible talk of God’s expectation that we forgive those who sin against us. 

Meme with the words, "And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors . . . for if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly FAther will also forgive you. But, if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neighter will your Father forgive your trespasses.' ~Matthew 6:12, 14-15, NKJV" on a backdrop of a solitary red leaf on a concrete surface

Because of our sin, we owe our Father an unpayable debt. But, Jesus’ blood covered that debt. In comparison, we should consider anything done against us as a much lesser debt than that for which the Father has forgiven us. 

What do we do with all of this? Our hearts’ reluctance, God’s word telling us, “Forgive,” the struggle of working through the emotions that make obedience difficult?

The act of forgiveness is a process. It’s rarely a one-and-done deal. Often, I make the initial choice to forgive. Then memories or pain revive in my heart, and I must choose to forgive again.

Why Is Forgiveness Important? Here are 8 Reasons—The act of forgiveness is a process. It’s rarely a one-and-done deal #tellhisstory #choosingforgiveness Click To Tweet
An iage of spotted leaves—symbolic of how, when we allow bitterness from unforgiveness into our hearts.

The Impact of Forgiveness

We always have a choice, Will we forgive? Or, won’t we? When we hold onto the hurts, we will live the repercussions for that decision:

Unforgiveness Results:

  • Health issues—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. The stress of holding onto anger and hurt turns into bitterness which will (trust me on this!) affect us physically, and in every other way. 
  • Bitterness—the only person we hurt through unforgiveness is ourselves. When bitterness grows unchecked in our hearts, it taints our relationships with God and others. It weakens us physically, colors how we perceive situations. It also skews our mental and emotional responses.
  • Builds a wall in our relationship with God. When we hold onto offenses, we go against God’s very nature by not forgiving as He’s forgiven us
  • God doesn’t hear our prayers (See Psalm 66:18)

Choosing to forgive others has many implications for our lives. 

Why is forgiveness important...an image of hte beauty of flowers in fall is a reminder that God creates beauty in our lives when we forgive

Benefits of forgiveness:

  • We grow closer to the Lord. Often the only way we’re able to truly forgive is with God’s help. We must choose to trust Him to enable us to forgive those who have sinned against us.
  • We gain freedom from bitterness. There’s scientific proof that bitterness impacts us physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. When we forgive, bitterness loses its grip on our hearts and lives.
  • We discover peace in our hearts, minds, and spirits. Releasing the pain that shackled us enables us to view life through an accurate lens and to face future situations with God’s perspective.
  • Our relationship with God deepens. Releasing offenses opens our hearts to receive and offer love as Jesus does. We see God more clearly. He always sees us, but when we aren’t held captive by unforgiveness, we glimpse His fingerprints on our days. 

Why is forgiveness important? Because forgiveness is powerful. The act of forgiving releases us from bondage to bitterness and the enemy of our souls.

Image of a small yellow-green butterfly sucking nectar. Symnbolic of the freedom we find when we choose to forgive those who hurt us

When God revealed to me all I’d held onto since childhood, He and I did business. There were lots of tears, lots of journaling, and the sense of His peace. Everything in me didn’t get all better instantly. But, remembering I’d chosen to forgive those who hurt me gave me the ability to let the pain roll off when the memories tried to come up. And God helped me to experience the freedom we can only live in when we’re not holding onto pain.

What about you? What is one thing that’s helped you to forgive another? Is there a benefit of forgiving you’ve experienced?

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