A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 25
I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live. Galatians 2:20
I have been given all things that pertain to life. II Peter 1:3
Have you ever experienced something in your past and then either externally or internally responded with the expression, I’ll never let that happen again? Or perhaps your response was, No one will ever get close enough to hurt me that deeply in the future. By doing so, you are literally speaking words over yourself, inhibiting your present and your future. These words can become spoken vows, bringing destruction to future relationships and yourself.
When you repeat the words, “I will never… again,” you are attempting to shield yourself from future hurt, but what you are actually doing is speaking curse-filled words over your present and your future. In other words, those present-day words spoken from broken, hurtful relationships in your past have a profound effect upon your future connections.
Victims remain victims because they harbor unforgiveness that has turned into bitterness. Victims live out this bitterness on an ongoing basis by reliving the hurt and the pain and then telling themselves the person or persons who hurt them, who abused them or who took advantage of them deserve justice and do not deserve their forgiveness.
It may sound harsh, but victims remain victims by living in their victimization – it keeps them in the past. Victims do not need to change to create a better future, because we enable victims today to stay victims. Too often, victims view themselves as powerless people, powerless to change and create a better future. Nothing could be further from the truth.
One of the most significant ways to be a victor today and in the future is through forgiveness. To forget your past is not humanly possible, and the more traumatic the event it was, the less chance of forgetting. But forgiving is a choice you can make that releases you and the one who hurt you so that you can live victoriously in the present and the future. Isaiah reminds us to forget the past, to not dwell on the former things so we can see what God is up to today and tomorrow. (Isaiah 43:18, 19) It is not possible to clearly see tomorrow through the cloudy lens of the past.
But one thing I do (present): Forgetting what is behind (past) and straining toward what is ahead (future), I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (present/future). (Philippians 3:13, 14)
And Jesus told us, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you (past/present), your heavenly Father will also forgive you (present/future). But if you do not forgive men their sins (past/present), your Father will not forgive your sins (present/future).” (Matthew 6: 14, 15)
True forgiveness allows us to live in freedom today because we no longer hold onto anything from our past. Forgiveness is not a natural act; it is an act of God in our lives. It is letting go of revenge or the thought of getting even.
Lastly, true forgiveness will eventually allow me to forget the wrong. Deep wounds can lose their sting long before the mind forgets. When we suffer a deep cut, we tend to it immediately. We require an x-ray, injections to numb the pain, and it is eventually sewn up. Antibiotics are administered, a tetanus shot is certain, and the wound is watched for weeks to come. When it comes to emotional wounds we often administer a little bit of, “Oh, it’s not very deep, it doesn’t hurt, and it doesn’t need any spiritual attention.”
For each of us to be distinctly and uniquely who we are created to be, forgiveness is an essential ingredient.
Question for reflection:
In what ways have you ever expressed spoken vows out of hurt or abuse, hoping to control the world around you so that the wounding does not continue?
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