"Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13 NIV
I once awoke from spiritual slumber to the realization that I had led myself into the stronghold of unforgiveness and offense.
After I came to myself, I decided I had had enough. It was time to forgive and move on. I wanted to forgive, I needed to forgive, I was ready to forgive. But guess what! Unforgiveness was not ready to let me go. As I tried to free myself from the darkness of unforgiveness, I found myself chasing my tail.
The Dictionary of Bible Themes defines forgiveness as “the freeing of a person from guilt and its consequences, including punishment; usually as an act of favor, compassion or love, with the aim of restoring a broken personal relationship.”
Our Heavenly Father is a God of love. He is forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call on Him (Psalm 86:5). He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger ..., He does not treat us as our sins deserve (Psalm 103:8 - 12).
The Scriptures are full of His promises of love and forgiveness toward us. Since we are all recipients of God's grace and forgiveness, we ought to extend the same freedom to others.
We are commanded by Christ to forgive one another, not seven times, but seventy times seven times (Matthew 18:22). In other words, we should lose count. If we ignore His command to forgive, our habit of unforgiveness will lead us on a downward spiral until we find ourselves bound by a stronghold.
Have you ever wanted to forgive someone but found yourself trapped in the stronghold of unforgiveness? How do you break free?
How to Break Free from Unforgiveness
1. First, realize that you can do nothing on your own. However, shout for joy because you can do everything through Christ, who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13).
2. Repent, confess your sin, and ask God for forgiveness and freedom (1 John 1:9).
3. Decide to make forgiveness a commitment.
4. Pray and pray some more!! Press into the presence of God. Pray for your adversaries (Matthew 5:44). Bless and do not curse (Romans 12:14).
5. Dig into the word of God. Spend copious amounts of time meditating on God's love and His unending flow of compassion and mercies toward us. Meditate on 1 Corinthians 13, and study other Scriptures on God's commandment to love. As you do so, the word of God will shape your thinking so that when you are tempted to be unforgiven, you will be able to stop your negative, spiraling thoughts and replace them with Scriptures (2 Corinthians 10:5).
6. Open your mouth and speak the word over the situation (Mark 11:23). Whenever you are reminded of the hurts caused by another, confess your love for them by faith and speak God's word over them. This will weaken the stronghold and quicken your healing process.
7. Finally, be alert and awake, for your enemy prowls around looking for someone to swallow up (1 Peter 5:8). Commit yourself to the Lord and resist spiritual slumber. As you move forward, learn to forgive quickly, and do not keep records of things people have done to offend you.
God freed me from the stronghold of unforgiveness and restored my soul. I have decided to commit to a lifestyle of love and forgiveness.
My prayer for you is that your spiritual eyes will be opened so that you may know and experience the depth, breadth, and height of Christ’s love for you (Ephesians 3:18). And as you bask in God’s love, I pray that His love and forgiveness will overflow from you to the people in your world, both the deserving and the undeserving. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
Note: These principles can be applied to breaking free from other negative emotions such as pride, jealousy, greed, etc.
Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.
- Dr. Chizobam Idahosa (a wife, mother to three beautiful girls, and a dentist specialized in oral medicine and orofacial pain. In 2015, she founded Beautiful in Jesus, a Christian ministry born from her journey toward inward beauty and maturity through the Word of God. We invite you to read more at BeautifulinJesus.com.)