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Forgiveness is better when we’re together | Church Corner

I’m super smart. I’m a Christian and in all my infinite wisdom (yes, I’m being sarcastic) I know exactly what to say to my family and friends whenever I see they might be hanging on to unforgiveness.

“Hey dude, you should forgive them.” “Hey, dude, you really need to forgive her.” “Hey, dude, forgive me.” “You should forgive.” “C’mon, hurry up and forgive.”

Yes, that’s right ladies and gentlemen, I’m just a fountain of wisdom when it came to helping my “peeps.” We fool ourselves in thinking it’s so easy, just say the word “forgive” and sit back and let the good times roll. The only problem is that after years of ministry, I’ve noticed that people aren’t necessarily living in the freedom of biblical forgiveness simply because someone wise like me (yes, I’m being sarcastic again) is telling them to “forgive.” During the past few months I’m realizing that I’ve failed my family and friends miserably – by simply telling them to forgive with no other support, prayer or accountability.

Here’s a fact: Bitterness caused by unforgiveness is a spiritual disease. If we or someone close to us had a physical disease we’d sit and talk and pray with them about it. We wouldn’t pray once and forget. We’d keep it in prayer and reach out to them for support. For some reason, we underestimate the negative impact of bitterness on our lives and don’t make it a priority in our daily spiritual routines.

Telling someone to forgive is a lot like telling them to eat their spinach. They intellectually know that it’s good for them and that it would probably benefit them somehow and in some way, but the bottom line is that it’s just not fun to do.

We tolerate our bitterness. We embrace it. We learn to cope with it. We fantasize about revenge.

Unforgiveness causes bitterness, which permeates our thoughts, feelings, and choices in a profoundly destructive way.

It’s not until I sat with my friend and said, “Let’s pray about this unforgiveness together.” We began to pray on a daily basis about it and we noticed he began to truly receive healing and peace in his heart and mind. Praying about unforgiveness is something that friends and family should be doing together.

One of the best ways you can show someone your love is to help them receive and give the gift of forgiveness. It will set them free and help them engage fully in their relationship with God and others.

In my experience, the major factor in not being able to forgive your enemies is simply not making forgiveness a priority in your life. Today, I challenge you to talk to God about your bitterness on a daily basis and invite him in to your life for healing and restoration. Also, help others and let them help you be free from bitterness. Now, I say, “Dude, you need to forgive – can I help you? Let’s pray.”

Dean Smith is the director of Live To Forgive Ministries and teaches about God’s forgiveness and love around the world. He attends Rainier Hills Christian Fellowship in Buckley with his wife Molly and two children. Learn more at: www.livetoforgive.com.

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