It’s happened to all of us. We’ve gone out of our way to lay down our lives for someone—ministered to them, helped them, gone the extra mile.
Or we’ve worked alongside someone and shared life with them. Then they turn around and stab us in the back. Or they walk away ungrateful. Or they act in a very un-Christlike way toward us.
Most of the time we’re able to shrug it off. We know “that’s ministry.” But every once in a while it gets under our skin. It catches us by surprise. It’s just so wrong and unfair, and it hurts.
Those are the times a burr can get under our saddle and begin to make a wound. And a wounded officer in the Lord’s army is more detrimental than you’d think. You’ve heard the saying “Hurt people hurt people”? It’s true. If we let those wounds fester, we’re bound to start doing more harm than good.
A Fresh Start
If you’ve been in ministry longer than a week, then you’ve probably been hurt. But it’s not OK to stay hurt. I meet a lot of ministers who are still hurting from a situation that sent them reeling. Many times they don’t even realize they’re holding on to unforgiveness. But it’s begun to ooze out of their pores, affecting their words, their relationships and their ministries.
What is it they say—harboring unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other guy to die? It’s true. It’ll eat your lunch, and it’s completely ungodly. Everything about God is about His forgiving nature. He once impressed it upon me like this: “Forgiveness is how My relationship started with you.”
Forgiveness is how you and I got to be new creatures in Christ—He forgave us. Forgiveness is how God starts things fresh. It’s how He deals with humans—even the undeserving ones. That gives us an idea how important forgiveness is. If we don’t forgive, we are outside God’s way of doing things—and even worse, we can’t be forgiven (Matt. 6:14-15).
Some of us need a fresh start after we’ve been hurt. God doesn’t want us to hang on to the pain, dragging it into our future like a ball and chain and letting it affect us in more ways than we know. Forgiveness is how to cut the chain and go on with life in peace, joy and effectiveness.
The first step to forgiveness is admitting our need to do it. But then what? Sometimes the hurt goes deep. Sometimes we’ve made a passing attempt—“Lord, I forgive them, amen”—but the feelings are still there, and if anyone asks us about it, the pain comes gushing out!
Thankfully, God just wants us to want to—He’ll help us do it. He’ll do the work in our hearts when we read and study His Word on the subject.
By that, I mean a concentrated, sustained effort to soak our spirits in the Scripture and be a doer of it. Jesus said we are clean because of the word He’s spoken to us (John 15:3). We can’t do this in our own strength; we have to have His supernatural help. Thankfully, He’s more than willing to give it.
If you need to forgive someone for hurting you—or if you just want to maintain a lifestyle of forgiveness in everyday life—here’s some Scriptures on which to meditate: Colossians 2:13; 3:12-13; Matthew 6:12-15; 18:21-35; Luke 6:35-37; 11:4; 23:34; John 13:34-35; 2 Corinthians 2:7-11; Ephesians 4:30-32; Romans 12:19-21.
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go)” (Mark 11:25, AMP).
I quoted that last one because I love the imagery of letting it drop—of leaving it and letting it go. Can you picture yourself dropping your hurt into a pile and walking away from it? Let it go! Don’t ever go back and pick it up again. Let God take care of it.
I like what one minister has said: “Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner.” Get free today—forgive.
Karen Jensen is an itinerant minister and instructor at Rhema Bible Training College in Broken Arrow, Okla. She is the author of Why, God, Why? What to Do When Life Doesn’t Make Sense, published by Charisma House.