Carole’s post yesterday painted such a vivid picture for me of willful blindness and the many other consequences of unforgiveness and bitterness as well. I see so clearly that what I will not forgive owns me. I think that I’m the one who’s holding onto something, that I’m in control, but really, I’m the one chained down. Every hurt that I do not let go of and forgive holds me tight, anchoring me in that place of pain and rage and bitterness. Such a real and frightening consequence! I am enslaved where I do not forgive.
Insanity is Believing There are No Consequences
I have touched insanity a few times in my life, and each time it was because I believed the lie that there were no consequences for my choices. “This person hurt you so badly that you’ve earned the right to hate and scorn them. It is just and right to do so! Who would fault you for it?” To believe that there are no consequences is to be insane. If I stick my hand in a fire, will it refuse to burn me simply because I’m hurt and wounded? Of course not! Yet there were several times in my life when I believed that I could hate and lash out with impunity because of how I’d suffered. Was that sane?
There are always, always consequences. There is grace abundant, but grace is not a free pass to hate without consequence. Grace does not remove the consequences of bitterness and unforgiveness. As John said to me the other day, “Understandable? Yes. Excusable? No.” When I choose not to forgive, there are consequences. Always.
When I choose unforgiveness, I shut the door on my own forgiveness and open the door to the torment of unrelenting guilt. I am also shackling myself to my pain in this place. I cannot leave my prison unless I forgive, so it accompanies me everywhere. No part of my life is untouched by it, because I’ve given it the power of ownership over me and now it can – and will! – color every thought, every conversation, every choice. My heart grows colder and harder because hate can only kill. It has no life or warmth in it. These are just a few of the consequences of hate and unforgiveness. And I haven’t even touched on bitterness!
I am well acquainted with the consequences I’ve laid out. And every time someone hurts my heart, I am brought to the crossroad of forgiveness or unforgiveness, sanity or insanity, love or hate, life or death. The Siren’s song of hate and bitterness rings out, promising relief from the pain but delivering only death. I always have a choice.
I was bought with the Blood of Christ and now I belong to Jesus. That purchase was full and complete, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t have to forgive. Just the other day, the Lord showed me a place of hurt that still held me because I hadn’t forgiven. It was horrible, and I really hadn’t seen it before. But there it was, a blight of darkness and hate in my heart that I was blind to – willfully so, because I had chosen it long ago. And though grace does not magically erase all the consequences of my sin instantly, it abounds and triumphs in breaking my spiritual chains.
I will be owned in this life, there’s just no escaping that. Ownership is very, very real. God’s gift to us is that we get to choose that owner. We can be owned by the ones who hurt us, or we can be owned by the One who loves us.
I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].
Philippians 1:6 AMP