The Power of Forgiveness

The Power of Forgiveness: Here at YWAM Asheville forgiveness, restoration, and reconciliation are more than just lecture topics.


The power of forgiveness

The Power of Forgiveness

What is forgiveness? 

Psychologists define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness. Though I agree with most of this definition, none of us has the right to decide whether or not someone deserves forgiveness.

When Jesus died on the cross and chose to forgive people who would continually sin against Him, He proved that no one on earth has the right to deny forgiveness to another. When we choose to receive God’s forgiveness, we forfeit our right to withhold it from anyone. 

Forgiveness, according to the Bible, is God’s promise to not count our sins against us. Though given freely in amount, God’s forgiveness does come with a warning: “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins,” says Matthew 6:14-15. 

The Bible makes it clear that the extent to which we forgive others is the extent to which we will be forgiven. As every other command the Lord gives us, this too is covered in His divine omniscience and drenched in unconditional love. This is easily shown when we look at what follows unforgiveness. 


Why is forgiveness important? 

“Unforgiveness is like drinking poison yourself and waiting for the other person to die,” says Marianne Williamson. Science has proved this to be true when medical books began classifying unforgiveness as a disease. 

Unforgiveness has been linked to heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, sleep deprivation, anxiety, and depression. Studies continually show that our emotional health is directly linked to our physical health and that the effects of unforgiveness can be detrimental. 

On the other hand, the act of forgiveness can lower the risk of heart attack, improve cholesterol levels, and reduce blood pressure. The power of forgiveness not only applies to the physical realm but the spiritual realm as well. I had the privilege of experiencing this first hand a few months ago. 

The Power of Forgiveness

My Mom and I’s relationship has been strained for the majority of my life. During my DTS at YWAM Asheville, God continually brought up the subject of forgiveness. In the last week of my outreach, I finally obeyed what the Lord was calling me to do and chose to forgive her. 

One major lesson I learned in DTS is that you have to fully accuse (acknowledge the pain and wrongdoing) before you can fully forgive. For me, that looked like writing a letter to my Mom where I could explain how deeply her actions hurt me and the things I wished she had done differently. 

Writing the letter wasn’t for the sake of sending it and making my Mom understand my pain, it was so that I could express and release everything that had been brewing inside of me. I burned the finished letter as a symbol of my decision to release and forgive her. 

In those moments, God taught me how to separate my Mom from her actions and how to see her as an individual whom He loved and died on the cross for. Nearly 6 months after burning that letter my Mom confessed that the Holy Spirit had convicted her for the ways she had treated me, owned up to things I had never even mentioned being upset about, and asked for my forgiveness. 

I had no idea that God was moving on her heart the way He was or that forgiving her would release a miracle! 


What forgiveness isn’t

Now that we have established what forgiveness is and what it can look like, it’s important to address what it isn’t. Forgiveness often isn’t a one-time event and it doesn’t mean that you forget what happened, or feel differently right away. 

When I find myself picking up past offenses, I choose to surrender it to the Lord again and again, reminding myself that I have already laid it at the foot of the cross. Our emotions can make us feel as if we can’t forgive, but feelings have nothing to do with forgiveness. Choose to obey God with your will and mind and your emotions will fall in line. 

Forgiveness also does not equal reconciliation. Though I always hoped for the restoration of my Mom and I’s relationship, my ability to forgive her was not contingent upon her apologizing to me and trying to better our relationship. 

The heart posture behind forgiveness must be one that does so out of obedience, expecting nothing in return. Additionally, forgiveness is not synonymous with trusting someone again. The Lord calls us to forgive, but He does not call us to be doormats. 

How does YWAM Asheville value forgiveness? 

Here at YWAM Asheville, forgiveness, restoration, and reconciliation are more than just lecture topics…they are realities lived out in everyday life by everyone. As a team, we are continually working towards unity. 

This often means that we have to apologize, empathize, and be vulnerable with each other. Part of why I love Youth With A Mission is because there is such an emphasis on Christlikeness in relationships. As students, whether that’s in Discipleship Training School, the Foundational Leadership Course, or another secondary school, you are equipped with tools to love others like Jesus does. 


Final Takeaway 

In a word, forgiveness is powerful. The lack of it can cause harm and distance us from the Lover of our souls and the act of it breeds peace, life, and miracles. Forgiveness is never easy, but it will always be worth it. 

Choose to believe that the God who sees you is even more aware of your pain than you are, and trust that His commands are best because He will always love you most. Whatever your journey of forgiveness, no matter how impossible it may seem, His grace is sufficient and He will walk alongside you every step of the way!



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