This year we are striving to become a church that loves like Jesus loves. One of the greatest obstacles that prevents us from having a loving heart is allowing negative emotions to control us. When we react with angry outbursts or in rage, our emotions have taken over. We are cautioned not to let internalized or unprocessed anger linger because it will give the devil a foothold. Anger and resentment are poisons that can cripple and even kill us. Holding in this poison causes damage in the form of weight gain or loss, suicide, headaches, blood clots, strokes, low immune system, heart attacks, insomnia, anxieties, ulcers, chronic pain, substance abuse and the list goes on and on. Living with unprocessed anger, resentment or revenge can fill our minds with evil thoughts, fear, and hate.
The Bible teaches that we are to learn self-control and allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit. Forgiveness is the key to opening our hearts to receive and give the love of God. Forgiving others is more for our benefit than it is to benefit others. It does not mean that the offender deserves or even is worthy of forgiveness. We are not minimizing what was done. Chances are, they have moved on with their lives. We are the ones who are stuck, sick and broken. Until we decide to forgive, we remain trapped. Forgiveness is a choice that starts with an act of will. I choose to forgive for myself. When I choose to forgive, I am refusing to allow my thoughts of anger, resentment, and hurt control me any longer. I choose to claim the peace and serenity that God promises. Until we choose to forgive, we will continue to battle the war raging within us. Forgiveness is giving up the possibility of a better past. We cannot change the past, but we can change our future. Forgiveness frees us to live our lives by realizing the opportunities that are ahead of us. It frees our heart and allows us to feel the love of God so we can love like Jesus loves.