What If We Let It Go?
Unforgiveness. Just the sound of that word is negative and depressing. It ruins lives. It causes stress. It splits families, ends friendships and makes people old before their time.
Forgiveness. Just the look of that word is positive and uplifting. It brings peace and comfort. It nurtures the heart and has been proven to lead to greater physical and emotional health. It lowers anxiety and creates relational harmony.
In the Bible, there is an account about the Corinthian church forgiving and restoring a man that had hurt the Apostle Paul personally and harmed the entire group with some terrible actions. The man’s behavior is not fully specified in II Corinthians 2:4-11 but it does give a clear and practical approach on how he should be forgiven and it informs us of 3 things that happen when we can't let something go and forgive:
Unforgiveness Leads to Discouragement
It is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. v. 7
Paul encourages the church to forgive the man so that he is not “overcome by discouragement.” The word overcome can also be translated overwhelmed and takes on the connotation of drowning. The person holding unforgiveness drowns in bitterness and latent anger and the person needing forgiveness drowns in sorrow and discouragement.
But the discouragement is not limited to the offender and offended. Unforgiveness is insidious and negatively impactful to everyone who knows of the situation or offense. Friends, co-workers, neighbors and other family members also deal with the fall out of unresolved issues and become the collateral damage of unforgiveness.
Unforgiveness Leads to Exploitation
When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too... so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes. vv. 10-11
Hearts sickened and weakened by unforgiveness can be greatly exploited the enemy. Paul warns the church that they must forgive so that their lives are not susceptible to further damage. Anger, resentment, anxiety and depression are just some of the reprecussions that come as a result of an unwillingness to forgive someone.
Unforgiveness Negates Love
It is time to forgive and comfort... reaffirm your love for him. vv. 7-8
Unforgiveness negates the transcendent effects of love. Forgiveness is a deeply loving act and failing to give it to others prevents the reaffirmation of charity that can console and comfort all involved. When we refuse to forgive, we are in essence, refusing to love.
Scenarios in life that require us to apply forgiveness will never go away. They will always be there. Something will probably happen in the next day, week or month that will require us to forgive or be forgiven.
What if we could do better at letting things go? Perhaps there would be more encouragement in our lives and communities; less anxiety and depression in our world and more meaningful expressions of love. Sounds like a pretty good alternative to holding on to things.