Our natural response when we are hurt is the feeling of anger and resentment towards the person who has offended us. We may feel justified in wanting to ’get even’ with anyone who inflicts pains on us. Some of us hold grudges for a life time, and find all manners of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of such reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent and apologize before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and the happiness that could be ours. Let us no forget that courageously forgiving those who have wronged us is wholesome and therapeutic.
In this message, Fr. Mbaka reveals the healing power of forgiveness, the effects of an unforgiving attitude and enjoins the people of God to always forgive one another no matter the gravity of the offense, more especially because we do not forgive for the other person, rather we forgive for ourselves.
Today, the church teaches us to forgive. Forgiveness is all about making the conscious decision to let go of grudges. We are here in the presence of our lord Jesus Christ asking for the grace to always forgive those who trespasses against us. People who are provoked will always say,’ ‘why should we not express our feelings’? You must not express every feeling with anger. Sirach 27; 30 says,” Anger and wrath are an abominations, yet a sinner holds unto them’’. Also, Sirach 28; 1-7 says, “But if you forgive someone who has wronged you, your sins will be forgiven when you pray. You cannot expect the lord to pardon you while you are bearing a grudge against someone else. You yourself are a sinner, and if you will not forgive another person, you have no right to pray that the lord will forgive your sins. If you cannot get rid of your anger, you have no hope of forgiveness”. This is the teaching of the church today. And that is why I want to deliver this message titled, ‘the secret power of forgiveness’. It is not a good thing for a child of God to hold unto anger and grudges. After listening to this message, you stop being angry and learn to forgive.
The essence of forgiveness
When tragedy strikes, we should not respond by seeking personal revenge but rather let justice take its course and then let go. It is not easy to let go and empty our hearts of festering resentment. Our Savior Jesus Christ has offered to all of us a precious peace through His atonement, but this can come only as we are willing to cast out negative feelings of anger or revenge for all of us who forgive those who trespass against us. Even those who have committed serious crimes, the atonement brings a measure of peace and comfort. Forgiveness comes more readily when we have faith in God and trust in His word. Such faith enables people to withstand the worst of human behavior.
If I may ask, why would anyone want to forgive someone who has wronged her? It is not about letting someone off the hook for a wrong doing or forgetting about the past or the pain. It certainly does not mean that you stick around for future maltreatment from a boss, a partner or friend. It is about setting yourself free so that you can move forward with your life. If we can find forgiveness in our hearts for those who have caused us hurts and injury, we will rise to a higher level of self esteem and well-being. You may be right, you are the offended. Nobody is arguing over it. But the moment you can’t forgive, you are not helping yourself. Some recent studies show that people who have learnt to forgive become less angry, more hopeful, less depressed, less anxious and less stressed up, which leads to greater physical well-being. Even the Lord commands us to forgive all men, for our own good because hatred retards spiritual growth. Only if we rid ourselves of hatred and bitterness can the lord put comfort into our hearts.
Anger is a killer disease. It is poisonous. When you write anger and put D before it, it becomes danger. So an angry person is a dangerous person. And if you meet any angry person, run away from that person because he can harm you out of anger.
What is the prayer of an angry man? That he dies prematurely but he may not know that he is saying that kind of prayer. His spirit is interpreting his actions. He that gets angry all the time may end up dying an early and sudden death. At the point of anger, someone’s rationality is dangerously affected. The person cannot reason well. He is mad at that moment. They say, a hungry man is an angry man , but an angry man is a mad man/woman.
You may not know why you are suffering from what is happening to you. You may be experiencing problems here and there, and you don’t know that there is somebody that you are supposed to forgive. And you will be accusing this or that person, not knowing that you are the cause of your own problem, because you have not learnt the secret power of forgiveness. Be humble enough to forgive. Humility is a part that only great men tread. Jesus Christ humbled Himself and came down to take the form of a man but He was killed for no just cause. Having healed the sick, going about doing good, opening the eyes of the blind, making the lame to walk, turning water into wine, raising the dead etc, how was He compensated? He was killed at Calvary. But He forgave them all. You might be saying that after all these things that you did for him/ her, you were compensated with evil. Is that why you should be angry and refused to forgive? We must act, think and forgive like Jesus. It is not always easy, but we need to obey the commands of the Lord to forgive. Vengeance is of God.
How many times will I forgive, Is it seven times? Peter asked Jesus in Mathew 18;21-22. Jesus said, it should be seventy times seven. This means we should not get tired of forgiving our offenders. Try to be a forgiven personality. Forgive like Joseph in Genesis 50. His brothers hated him, mess him up, denied him, threw him inside the pit, and Sold him into slavery. In the land of slavery, he was abused, falsely accused and sent into prison. But despite everything that the brothers did to him, he forgave them all. What cannot be forgiven? No matter how grave the offense is, try to forgive. Look at the case of two brothers, Esau and Jacob in Genesis 33, how Esau took Jacob’s birthright. Do you know what it means to take ones’ birthright? But Esau was able to forgive his brother Jacob.
To err is human indeed. But forgiveness is also a possibility no matter the gravity of the offense. Though you may think of God as the final dispenser of forgiveness, you and I have the power to forgive as well. Doing so can help us avoid bitterness and resentment and often will salvage a relationship. For instance, somebody carried your money and ran away. Find a reason to forgive and continue with your life. What if that money was with you and you bought a car with it but then shortly after that, you had an accident and died. It might be a divine reason for allowing that person to take away that money to save your life. Do not wait for the person to come and beg you before you forgive. If God, who is capable of taking away our lives, could forgive us, what can we not forgive? When you forgive, you might be seen as a weakling, but you are following the part of divine. You are making yourself godly. God is happy for you and the angels are singing Alleluia because a saint has been born.
Remember, you forgive your fellow human, and not witches and wizard, occultists or people who are bent in killing you. The bible says,” Suffer not the witch to live”. These category of people need to be fought against and cast out of our lives.
The benefits of forgiveness
Let us remember that we need to forgive to be forgiven. Healing power can come to us as we follow the counsel of the Lord to forgive all men. Forgiveness has an inherent supernatural power that can bring back healing and health in the person that is harboring it. We do not forgive for the other person, rather we forgive for ourselves. Forgiveness is for our own growth and happiness. When we hold on to hurt, pain, resentment and anger, it harms us far more than it harms the offender. Forgiveness frees us to live in the present. Reliving the wrong that was done to us keep us living in the past. Forgiveness can help us overcome feeling of depression, anxiety, and rage as well as personal and relational conflicts. Forgiveness let us regain our personal power. Our anger, regret, hatred or resentment towards someone means that we are giving up our power to that person. Forgiveness brings us back to good physical and mental health. The system of the body responds to negative emotions, affecting the immune system in ways that would blow your mind. Forgiveness cleans the cobweb so that we can see the good again. When you forgive, you will be able to see all the positive qualities in the person that you once loved, and allow you to accept him or her fully and have a chance of a long lasting healthy relationship.
Besides the reward of letting go of a painful past, there are powerful health benefits that go hand in hand with the practice of forgiveness. Forgiveness is associated with lower heart rate and blood pressure as well as overall stress relief. It is also associated with improving physical symptoms, reducing fatigue in some patients, and improving sleep quality. In the psychological domain, forgiveness has been shown to diminish the experience of stress and inner conflict while simultaneously restoring positive thoughts, feelings and behavior.
Effects of unforgiving attitude
Harboring bitterness in one’s heart has far reaching and often unexpected consequences that affects one spiritually, physically and emotionally.
Without forgiveness, we rob ourselves of the faith and good conscience. We can suffer shipwreck of our faith and end up in prison in the hands of the devil. On the other hand, forgiveness makes us like our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who forgave us all our iniquities. Unforgiving spirit gives place to the devil in our lives. It destroys God’s protective wall around a person’s life and then the person becomes a victim of the one who seeks to devour. In the occult kingdom, they cannot attack a Christian successfully until they have provoked that person. They will start with provocation and get the person distracted. Any time you are embittered for more than a second, you are already a victim of attack. The bible tells us not to give place to the devil. One of the ways to do that is to be quick to forgive. Eph 4:26-27 says,” Be angry but do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. When God is forced to discipline us because of an unrepentant heart, He takes away His protection from us. Then Satan does everything in his power to make our lives unbearable and miserable. He causes such physical and emotional illness that can’t be cured by human medicine. It opens doors for different demonic manifestations. It deprives us of God’s grace, because it feeds the root of bitterness which originates from anger.
Moreover, a believer cannot fully love God with heart, mind, soul and strength while harboring resentment against his brother. 1John 4; 20-21 says, ’’if a man say, I love God, and hate his brother, he is a liar. For he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment has we from him, that he who loves God loves his brother also’’. Jesus said in Mathew 6:14-15,” for if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you, but if you forgive not men their trespasses neither will your father forgive your trespasses “. Because unforgiving attitude is a violation of God’s law, it can also cause spiritual turmoil that hinders a believers’ spiritual growth. Prayer is stifled because of harbored sin that should be confessed. When you are bearing grudges against someone, you cannot pray meditatively and contemplatively. And worship is dry and hypocritical because it’s difficult to effectively honor the lord while trying to justify or hide a wrong attitude. Also, resentful persons’ witness is damaged, as others are prevented from seeing Gods’ glory shining through him. Anybody who can’t forgive can’t win a battle. Forgive, and then God will fight your battle for you. All you owe your self is to forgive.
The physical consequences of harboring resentments against one another
It is probably not surprising to hear that bitterness impacts the mind and spirit, but you may not have realized what a physical toil it can also take on us. Although it takes root in the mind, it does not stay contained. Acrimony can spread into every aspect of a person’s life. For example, the hostility a man feels towards his father can destroy his relationship with his wife, his willingness to perform at work and his involvement in church. An attitude of bitterness brings tension and anxiety which can affect everything from muscles, to chemical balance in the brain. Resentment causes imbalance in the hormones from the various glands of the body, producing many physical symptoms and diseases. The stress of bitterness weakens the immune system and heightens ones’ susceptibility to physical ailments. Often doctors can trace physical disorder to a point in time when bitterness began to develop. Refusal to forgive causes fatigue and loss of sleep. Soon your eyes and facial features reflect your inner distress.
Bitterness retards one’s progress. It can inhibit your prosperity. It can mess up your program of conception. It can stand as a negative magnetic pole that can attract forces of darkness, and even cause sickness. When you cannot forgive, there is a magnetic pole that forms in your physic-psycho-pneumatic vocation and professional destiny lifestyle. The pole stands up to attract negative forces. Once you are angry, there is a psycho-pneumatic wound in the emotional, and once you are suffering from emotional hurt, you may be going to the hospital and taking drugs, but the problem is medically not diagnose. The healing must be an emotional one. Any time you are enraged, some unhealthy acid in your systems will be secreted, and if care is not taking, it will affect both the duodenal and peptic organ, thus ulcer becomes the effect. In the case of severe anger, the gull bladder may be affected, and if care is not taking, the prostrate organ may be endangered. There could be unhealthy formations of tissues in the system when you are embittered.
Do you know that to some women, psycho-pneumatically, chronic anger could cause a premature menopause? Anybody who cannot forgive can begin to get old quickly. Anger can paralyze somebody. It can cause partial stroke. When you are angry, you are messing up your cardiovascular operation. Even the lungs can be affected. There is a kind of anger and bitterness you will be harboring, you find it difficult to breath. When you are embittered, the nerve in your brain may begin to cut till you start developing stroke. It can cause ill health in your ophthalmic system. Acute anger can cause migraine headache. When it affects the modular, you begin to suffer from early senility. Anger can destroy ones’ vocation. It can send one into prison. When you are pregnant and you are always angry, If care is not taking, the child may deform.
The emotional consequences
It takes emotional energy to maintain a grudge. When your emotional energy is exhausted, you become depressed. Hating someone produces stress hormones in your body. You become worn out and unable to cope with daily challenges. Bitterness and resentment create an emotional focus towards the person who offended you. The more you think about his actions, the more you begin to reflect the basic attitude that prompted his actions.
One reason God commands us to forego hostility and vengeance is that it causes so much damage to our own lives, more especially our spiritual lives. Let us pray that, as from today, we would begin to live a life of forgiveness, so that we would be happy people. Then all the blessings that accomplish forgiveness would begin to follow us. Then we would be like magnetic poles that attract healing, health, promotion, protection, prosperity, success, victory, longevity, and miracles would be our portion in Jesus name, Amen.