Ann Landers, the famous advice columnist, once wrote, “Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head.”
Why do we do that? We allow others to walk all over us, and they don’t even realize they are doing it. It’s time we stand up and take back that valuable space in our heads (and in most cases, in our hearts), and write some eviction letters. And the only way we can do this is via forgiveness.
During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15, ESV)
The Amplified Bible explains in more detail: “For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
If someone has hurt you in some way in your past, Jesus tells us we must forgive and rid ourselves of any resentment we have against that person in order for our Father in Heaven to forgive us.
It’s hard to forgive sometimes, isn’t it?
I once believed that Jesus couldn’t be referring to people who have been hurt in the deepest, most tragic of ways by others. It’s simply impossible to forgive in those circumstances.
I once believed that way because I had been hurt in the deepest, most tragic of ways by another person. I once believed that the only way I could live is by holding onto that resentment to ensure it would never happen again.
I was wrong.
With Christ, all things are possible – even forgiveness when forgiveness seems impossible. When I forgave, Christ replaced bitterness and resentment with peace. He replaced the hatred and fear that had seared my heart with joy and love.
I once heard someone say, “Resentment from unforgiveness is like replaying a scene from a movie over and over in your head.”
When considering resolutions for your New Year, reflect upon your own life and determine whether you need to forgive. This determination is not always staring you in the face. Sometimes, prayer times are needed to specifically discuss this issue with God. It was like this with me. During a prayer time, God revealed a specific event in my life which I had not even remembered – an event which led to a long-time harboring of resentment.
If you find you do need to forgive, pray about it and do it. Forgive others of their reckless and willful sins. Just let them go. Give up resentment. Receive the forgiveness of the Father in return. And stop letting someone live rent-free in your head.