“If you hold anything against anyone, forgive them.” Mk 11:25 NIV

The hardest offenses to forgive are committed by the people who are closest to us. Why? Because we have to live with them every day! When we’re young, our emotions are so intense that wounds and injuries may stay with us for a lifetime. And the pain is worse when the one who wronged us was a parent. Perhaps a mother rejected us instead of providing the love we needed, or an alcoholic father was sexually abusive in the midnight hours. Victims of such horror may still be consumed with resentment and anger many decades later. This can cause you to “act out,” and hurt the people you now love and need most. What’s the answer? Forgiveness. Dr. Archibald Hart defines forgiveness as “giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.” Only when you find the emotional maturity to release those who’ve wronged you, whether they have repented or not, will your wounds begin to heal. Jesus put it this way: “When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Here’s something you may not have considered: God’s willingness to forgive you depends on your willingness to forgive others. You say, “But if I forgive them, I’m letting them off the hook.” No, you’re letting yourself off the hook! You’re setting yourself free of pain and resentment, and positioning yourself to walk in God’s blessing. Leave the offense and the offender with God; He’s the only one who understands what they did and why they did it. As far as you are concerned—forgiveness begins the healing process.