As I’ve continued through the process of fully forgiving and letting go in a particular situation, the Lord has shed His light on so many other issues as well. It began with “Yes, Lord, I choose to forgive this person,” but there has been a process since. Many times the battle was intense as anger and rage and even hatred would bombard me. I would cry out and cry out to surrender and forgive, bringing brief moments of peace, but then the onslaught would return. And once again my focus would be invaded with thoughts of this person’s unjust cruelty and their many offences. But why wouldn’t I – couldn’t I – just let go? What was hindering me?
The Idolatry of Divided Loyalty
It’s so easy to take up the burden or cause for someone I care about, especially when it comes to someone I love (like a child or spouse, family member or very close friend). In my earnest struggle to forgive, it seemed that I just could not let go no matter how I would bow and surrender. The constant focus on the offence and torment would return, and I would have to bow again. But the Lord answered my desperate cry, and showed me the hindrance to my forgiveness.
Psalm 79:5 AMP
How long, O Lord? Will You be angry forever? Shall Your jealousy [which cannot endure a divided allegiance] burn like fire?
Oh, He is so jealous! He is a consuming Fire. And it was a fire I was in, because my heart had a divided allegiance. My problem and hindrance was idolatry. When He revealed it to me, I saw it so clearly. I had taken up a cause for someone I love and stood on their side instead of the Lord’s side. I became entangled in the mess and with this person. They became more important than my love for God, for His will and His purpose alone.
2 Timothy 2:4 AMP
No soldier when in service gets entangled in the enterprises of [civilian] life; his aim is to satisfy and please the one who enlisted him.
Idolatry is setting my heart on and thus worshipping something, someone, anything above God, and that is what I had done. I was standing on their side, the wrong side…and so I was against Him. I could not forgive, in fact I was paralyzed because my heart was divided. I had set the person I love and their wants and needs above my love for the Lord. I was pierced as I saw my disloyalty and betrayal of Him – and of His love for me.
Out Goes Idolatry, In Comes Peace
Matthew 22:37 NKJV
Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
Later, as I repented and renounced my idolatry, asking for God’s forgiveness and cleansing, I realized that I’d been set free. The torment of unforgiveness that had plagued me was gone. I was no longer caught in the prison of my idolatry. He had delivered me once “I set my love on Him alone” (Ps. 91:14). The anger and rage were gone, and I had His peace. The wall of idolatry between us was destroyed.
There is always a choice of whose I will be, of who I will love and whose love I will love. Every offence, every situation calls for that choice to be made. I belong to Jesus. I choose His will and His purpose as I take up my cross and follow only Him.