“God has been very good to me, for I never dwell upon anything wrong which a person has done, so as to remember it afterwards. If I do remember it, I always see some other virtue in that person.” Saint Teresa of Avila
Mark 11:25 says that whenever you stand praying, forgive if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Anger - The enemy within
Most secular psychologists do not consider the notion of sin, instead they eliminate the concept of sin. In doing so, they do proclaim that they do not have a need to repent. Therefore, let’s deal with this issue from a psychological and spiritual manner. Anger is a term for the emotional aspect of aggression, as a basic aspect of the stress response. Any of the following if ruptured can cause anger to set in. Acceptance, Anticipation, Boredom, Disgust, Envy, Fear, Guilt, Hate, Joy, Jealousy, Love, Remorse, Sorrow and Surprise. Anger may be ‘provoked’ or ‘triggered’ by perceived threats, like conflict, or by abstract concepts such as injustice. There are many physical conditions that increase the potential for one to become angry. Common contributors to irritability include fatigue, hunger, being in pain, sexual frustration, or recovery from an illness. Other causes are hormonal changes, such as those associated with PMS (Pre menstrual syndrome), giving birth, and menopause, physical withdrawal, and bipolar disorder. Research also shows that some individuals can be genetically predisposed to higher levels of anger.
Suppressed anger and un-forgiveness are killers of love, joy, health, happiness, loving relationships, family harmony, success and prosperity; a killer of everything that we inherently desire, everything that is good, lovely and fair. Control of our anger is not enough. As long as we control our anger, we still have it. What we really need is freedom from our anger. We develop many characteristic traits while we grow up. Adam and Eve were the only two humans that were adults at creations, and they did not have to go through birth, adolescence and everything in between those cycles.
While growing up we inherit many feelings, emotions and behaviours that are happy and sad and those developments make us into what we are. There are two characteristic traits, one is inherited at birth and is what we receive from our parents, the other is what we develop as we grow up at home, surroundings, school, etc., which is acquired.
Marah – Bitterness
Exodus 15:22-26 Then Moses led Israel onward from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur; they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” And he cried to the LORD; and the LORD showed him a tree, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made for them a statute and an ordinance and there he proved them, saying, “If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon you which I put upon the Egyptians; for I am the LORD, your healer.”
Many Christians, become bitter and murmur at the Church and at the Lord when situations or circumstances don’t go the way they would like it to. Grumbling is the opposite of thanksgiving. “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6. This bitterness leads to pride and envy – a feeling devoid of God and His mercies. Sometimes the marah experience is good, it makes us realize that God is who He says He is and we are who He says we are. These experiences should draw us close to the Saviour and seek His face.
But the Word of God says: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1. “Since, therefore, we are now justified by His Blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.” Romans 5:9 “And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him.” Colossians 1:21-22
Forgiveness has been described as an attribute by which one ceases to feel resentment or to carry a grudge against an individual or a group for a wrong he or she has committed against oneself. Forgiveness can be granted with or without the other asking for forgiveness. Christians believe that persons can forgive themselves for any guilt that they might have against themselves such as an act of abortion. That it is possible to forgive groups of people, for it is possible to be forgiven by God, the very reason Christ had come into this world. Forgiveness is recognised in Christianity as a spiritual blessing and mercy of God. Spiritual forgiveness does not necessarily have any connection with material or financial forgiveness. One may spiritually forgive another, yet expect that the other should still make material or financial amends. Christ Jesus is the source of all forgiveness, which is made possible through the suffering and sacrifice on the Cross.
Forgiveness can be seen as a religious value. However, secularists say that belief in a deity is not necessary for forgiveness. It can be motivated by love, philosophy, appreciation for the forgiveness of others, empathy, or personal temperament. Even pure pragmatism can lead to forgiveness, as it is well documented that people who forgive are happier than those who hold grudges. However this is humanistic, if the source of love is not from God, it can have ulterior motives and can be conditional and counterfeit.
Psychology of Forgiveness
In the last decades, forgiveness has also received attention from social and secular psychologists. Although there is no consensual psychological definition of this concept in the research literature, many researchers assume that forgiveness is related to a pro-social change of attitude and health linking with interpersonal motivations towards another person who has committed an offence. Specifically, three secular and three spiritual changes in motivations are thought to occur when someone forgives an offender:
An increase in motivation to act in ways that benefit the offender or the relationship with the offender.
A decrease in motivation to take revenge on the offender.
A decrease in motivation to avoid the offender
An increase in motivation to seek God
An increase in motivation to attending Church and prayer groups
Reconciliation between man and God.
Forgiveness is necessary for civilization, since without it, all wrongs would demand revenge, which may themselves be taken as wrongs requiring revenge, resulting in a spiralling escalation of retaliation, leading ultimately to utter destruction.
Forgetting – a journey that ends
One of the most blessed things in being a Christian is the grace of forgetting past hurts and wounds. Paul says in Philippians 3:13. Beloved, I do not consider to have made it on my own, but this one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.
The Greek word for forgetting is epilanthonamai (ep-ee-lan-than’- om-ahee) meaning, ‘to lose out of mind’. Paul was saying that he loses the past as he removes it out of his mind and this is done only with divine intervention; this is why he says that he does not consider to have made it on his own.
The Greek word for behind is opiso (op-is’-o) meaning back in time or place. Paul did not worry about the past, he broke away from the past and all that it carried. He did not bother about the place where he was hurt or the people that hurt him. He just left it behind. In Philippians 3:8 …For His (Jesus) sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. In our lives many times we get hurt by several people. For example a girl who was hurt or treated badly by her father or may be was sexually abused. If she has not dealt with that hurt and set herself and her father free from the bondage of unforgiveness, she tends to carry that pain on to her husband when she gets married and that will have an effect on the marriage. If perhaps the father had called the daughter an idiot at all times with those words causing pain and grief to this child. If she is not being able to react to that hurt, the hurt will sit in her mind all through her growing up. When her husband casually calls her an idiot, her mind reaches to the unconscious repository and pulls out the hurt caused by her father which will cause her to react to her husband in an absurd or hurtful and even vengeful manner.
That is why it is important to leave all behind and surrender it to the Lord and ask for healing and deliverance. People say that time is a healer; time is never the healer. God is the healer and He gives us time to deal with our feelings.
The Greek word for straining forward is epekteinomai (ep-ek-tinom- ahee) meaning to stretch forward or reach forth. Philippians 3:16 only let us hold fast to what we have attained. We have attainted salvation through repentance and the forgiveness of sins. In the same way, we need to forget the past and keep looking forward.
Forget what others have done to you. We cannot say the wound is healed but the scar remains. Forget what others have done to you, when we forgive, we don’t forget the person, we only forget the hurt. We need to make conscious efforts.
Forget what you have done to others. We so often live in guilt and unforgiveness. We need to repent. The meaning of repentance is brought out in the story of the Prodigal son in Luke 15. While sitting in the midst of pigs, he remembered his father and said I will go back to my father’s house and ask forgiveness. He decided. He got up and went to his father’s house. He realized that he had sinned against God and his father. He got up, and he did not sit in the same pit that was destroying him. The pit that we sit in is a reservoir that’s filled with hurt, anger, envy, pride and all the rotten fruits of the evil one that cause a stench in our lives. We need to recognize and act upon it. We need to confess our sins. 1 John 1:9 says if we confess our sins, He who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The Greek word for confess is homologeo (hom-ol-og-eh’o) meaning to speak out or acknowledge.
Confession however is not repentance. We need to repent and forsake our wrong doings. Proverbs 28:13 says, No one who conceals transgressions will prosper, but one who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. The Greek word for forsake is azab (aw-zab’) meaning to commit not to do it again or refuse to do it again.
The main source of our conviction and mercy is only from God. The Greek word mercy is racham (raw-kham’) meaning to obtain love, pity and compassion. We then need to be washed from our sins and iniquities. I John 1:7 says that the Blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sins. The Greek word for cleansing is katharizo (kath-ar-id’-zo) meaning to purge, blot out and eliminate. The Greek word for all is pas meaning whole, completely and thoroughly. The Greek word for sin is hamartia (ham-ar-tee’-ah) meaning faults or offence and hamartano (ham-ar-tan’-o) meaning offence, trespass or not to share the prize. This is what Paul means when he said in Philippians 3:14 I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call. Therefore sin disqualifies us from receiving the prize, but repentance takes us forward to the goal set for us towards receiving the prize. In summary, we need to understand that the Blood of Jesus cleanses us from ALL SIN, not just some of it, and we need to get out of the guilt mode.
If the Son of Man sets you free, you are free indeed.