“For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” ~Acts 8:23
Apologizing takes the anger stink off of us—it removes the guilt and its poisonous effect (sadness, regret, bitterness, and even illness). We can free ourselves from Satan’s guilt grasp simply by apologizing. The times that it’s the most difficult to say your sorry are the times you need to say it the most, these are the times that an apology will have the greatest effect!
This is a double-edged sword— in that forgiveness is the other side of this situation. When someone apologizes to us we must then forgive them because if we don’t, the anger stink is once again back on us! We are drinking the cup of anger poison that we poured for them.
Remaining angry at someone only leads to bitterness, especially once they’ve apologized. Repressed anger allows Satan to keep his grasp on a portion of our hearts. It’s easier to stay mad—it’s not only easier, sometimes we actually prefer to be angry. We kind of look at it as the other person’s punishment for hurting us.
Strangely enough, we seem to get some sort of satisfaction through this feeling of anger. This is the effect of Satan’s hold, he gives us this weird, revenge-filled satisfaction, this deep feeling of superiority. But I tell you the truth, apology and forgiveness will bring peace, which is far better in the long run emotionally as well as physically. Yes, repressed anger leads to bitterness and anxiety, and the stress from all these negative emotions will eventually lead to physical illness as well as emotional depression.
Everybody feels negative emotions once in a while, but these emotions have a stronger effect on your health than you may realize. Every time you think about how someone hurt you, experience resentment or anger, or replay bad memories in your thoughts, your body suffers just as much as your mind. That’s why holding on to negative emotions can lead to not only devastating emotional illness but long-term physical disease as well. However, there is one very simple solution: forgiveness! Apologizing and forgiving are the only things we can do to move past the past.
Holding on to anger keeps us in bondage to the memory of whatever happened, we literally relive the unpleasant event over and over in our minds. It’s the devil’s way of mentally torturing us as well as alienating us from the other person or persons that hurt our feelings. And usually, the other person is someone we care about. Truth is, it’s very difficult to have our feelings hurt by someone we don’t know and care for.
Holding a grudge doesn't make you strong; it makes you bitter. Forgiving doesn't make you weak; it sets you free.
Think of an apology as a do-over. It’s the only way to rewind and start again. It takes a strong person to say sorry, and an even stronger person to forgive! We must apologize and forgive; and then pray for the other person as well. This isn’t by any means easy stuff to do. Believe me, I truly get how hard this is, but do it anyway! If we learn nothing else from Jesus, let's learn the empowerment that comes from love and forgiveness.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” ~Matthew 6:14-15
Apologize, sincerely apologize and then move on. The effectiveness of our apology is not dependent on whether or not the other guy accepts it. Once we apologize, it’s off of us and is no longer a source of anger or resentment. We have freed ourselves from the power of guilt because we’ve owned our part, and can now put the issue to bed and be at peace.
“That you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” ~Matthew 5:45
This verse isn’t referring to judgment, but rather God’s grace. Maybe we can get a little a glimpse of what Jesus is telling us by looking at the two verses before this one.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” ~Matthew 5:43 & 44
That is some God-size forgiveness right there. Jesus is really raising the bar with this statement. Don’t just love and forgive, but love, forgive and pray for those who abuse and victimize you!
Jesus was trying to help the disciples understand the concept of forgiveness but as usual, just like us, they got it wrong. Rather than understanding that forgiveness must be limitless to be like God, they ask Jesus to give them the number of times they should forgive!
“Then Peter came to Him and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times? Jesus said to him, I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” ~Matthew 18:21-22
Jesus didn’t give them the answer they wanted or expected, instead, He told them that there really isn’t any certain amount, but that they should just keep forgiving endlessly as God endlessly forgives us. He goes on to help explain the importance of the act of forgiveness, as well as the ultimate results of what will happen to all of us! Jesus then told them the parable of the unforgiving servant. I assure you, this parable will permanently change your attitude about forgiveness!
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all. Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, pay me what you owe! So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, have patience with me, and I will pay you all. And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, you wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you? And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” ~Matthew 18:23-35
Q: Are you ready to apologize and forgive?
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