In my experience, unforgiveness is the number one reason why Christians are oppressed! Unforgiveness leads to bitterness and offense, which can cause you to waste your life trying to get even instead of fulfilling your own destiny by walking in your call. Many people spend their lives hating others and planning for revenge. However, bitterness has no friends. There is no container known to man that will hold it. It always leaks out onto those we love the most. It is important that we forgive all those who sinned against us so that we can be free to go on with our lives! It is also crucial that we learn to forgive ourselves for our own sins.
I am all too familiar with the plight of being profoundly wounded by others and relying on unforgiveness to protect me and even to bring justice against my oppressors. I received the Lord in 1973 during the Jesus Movement. I was 18 years old and living with a ton of pain in my heart. I used to lie in bed at night imagining creative ways to destroy the people who had abused me. I didn’t just want them dead; I wanted them to suffer the way they had caused me to suffer. Soon after I got saved, the Lord began to confront my unforgiveness. He told me that I needed to forgive the people who abused me or I would open the door to the tormentors in my life. It wasn’t easy at first but I realized that He had given me the power to forgive when He forgave me.
Joyce Meyer said, “Unforgiveness is like drinking deadly poison and thinking the other person’s going to die.” We see this principle played out in Scripture when Peter asked Jesus how many times he had to forgive (which seems humorous to me that Peter is the one asking how many times he has to forgive when he is the most offensive guy on the team).
Jesus’ response was in a parable, which you can read about in Matthew 18:21-35. I’ll give you the summary: A servant owed his master 10,000 bags of gold. The master took pity on him, canceled his debt, and let him go free. The next thing you know, the servant is choking a fellow-servant who owed him 100 silver coins. Instead of showing the fellow-servant mercy as his master had shown him, the servant threw his debtor in prison until he could pay him back. The master caught wind of this and asked his servant, “Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” Then, the master threw him in jail to be tortured until he could pay back all he owed. Jesus ended his parable by saying: “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
This parable is stunning to me. Unforgiveness puts us in prison.
If we fail to understand how big our debt of sin was to God and what it meant for him to forgive it, we can fall into the trap of judging the much smaller wrongs of those around us. As we can see from the story, we are only hurting ourselves when we do that!
It is the privilege and the responsibility of royalty to forgive. Solomon, who was raised to be a prince from birth said, “An understanding person demonstrates patience, for mercy means holding your tongue. When you are insulted, be quick to forgive and forget it, for you are virtuous when you overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11 TPT). After Jesus rose from the dead, He breathed on his disciples, releasing his Spirit into them. Then he gave them their first mission as Spirit-filled believers, “I send you to preach the forgiveness of sins—and people’s sins will be forgiven. But if you don’t proclaim the forgiveness of their sins, they will remain guilty.” (John 20:23 TPT). Therefore, forgiveness is a choice but it’s really not an option.
I don’t believe that anyone wants to intentionally live enslaved to the shackles of unforgiveness that brings torment to their life. So why do some people live in a lifestyle of bitterness? I’d propose that these five lies are contributors to being imprisoned to offense:
Unforgiveness is like an octopus, it has many tentacles that seep into your soul, and choke out your life. If you’re living in torment then I’d like to propose that working through forgiveness will deliver you from bondage and free you to begin living in peace!
My prayer for you today is that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened to see any areas of your life that are under the influence of unforgiveness. Remember that God is Redeemer of all things! There’s nothing in your life that is too messy, too big, too painful, too scary or even too ugly for him to make whole! If you need help praying through forgiveness, I encourage you to check out this resource from Nothing Hidden Ministries.
Originally posted on 09/06/2019 on krisvallotton.com, this version adopts The Passion Translation for some verse references.
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Kris Vallotton is the Senior Associate Leader of Bethel Church in Redding, California, the co-founder of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) and Moral Revolution. Kris is a noted prophetic voice worldwide and a bestselling author. He has written more than a dozen books and training manuals to help prepare believers for life in the Kingdom.
He’s a highly sought-after international speaker, equipping people to successfully fulfill their divine purpose. Kris has a diverse background in business, counseling, consulting, pastoring, and teaching. He loves to both teach to the masses and advise leaders one-on-one, utilizing his experience and his prophetic gift to assist world influencers in achieving their goals. He commonly provides counsel to governmental and business leaders on practical strategies for cultural transformation and has unique expertise in economies and building prosperous communities. He is also the author of a weekly blog on www.krisvallotton.com.
Kris has been married to his wife Kathy since 1975, they have four children and 10 grandchildren. Kathy has recently written her first book The Good, the God, and the Ugly that is filled with stories of the Vallotton family.