I watched a show today, Enjoying Everyday Life with Joyce Meyer. I just had to share what I learned from her teaching today and what God’s Word says about forgiveness and unforgiveness. I think it is something that we all have struggled with at some point in our lives or may still struggle with.

Joyce shared the story of the Prodigal Son from the bible. (found in Luke 15:11-31) Basically the story is about a man who had two sons. The man divided his property between his sons and gave his younger son his share.  His younger son left and went to a distant country. He lived wildly and spent all that he had that was given to him by his father. Finally he decided to come back to his father and tell him that he sinned. When he came back, his father ran to him with open arms and was filled with compassion. He basically threw a party for his younger son celebrating his return.

“Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. So they began to celebrate.Luke 15:23-24

The older brother was not very happy about his father throwing a party for his younger brother. He refused to be a part of the party. He was jealous and harboring unforgiveness towards his brother and father.

I never really thought about this story from this point of view before until now.

Joyce shared 6 ways to detect when you have unforgiveness.

1. Unforgiveness Always Keeps Score

In the story of the Prodigal Son, the older brother was keeping score of what his father did not do for him and what he has done for his father.

“Look!  All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.” Luke 15:29

Love does not keep record of wrongs. “It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:5

2. Unforgiveness Always Boasts of its own record.

The older brother was boasting to his father about how he has been slaving and never disobeyed his father’s orders.

Love does not boast. “It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” 1 Corinthians 13:4

When someone has judgment toward someone they are thinking and saying “You’re bad and I’m good.” It is not good to have that kind of attitude. It can be very damaging.

3. Unforgiveness Always Complain

The older brother was complaining to his father when he said that his father never gave him a young goat or a feast to celebrate with his friends and he said to his father “But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!”

“Do everything without complaining or arguing.” Philippians 2:14

An unforgiving spirit does not see the good people are doing, but sees what they are not doing or the wrong that they are doing.  The older brother was jealous of his younger brother when his father gave him a celebration but did not give him one.

4. Unforgiveness always alienates, divides, and separates

The older brother withdrew. He was not going to go to the celebration for his brother. He separated himself. He refused to celebrate the return of his brother all because he was angry, harboring unforgiveness, and jealous.  “The older brother became angry and refused to go in.” Luke 15:28

5. It always accuses, exposes, & continues to bring up the offense

The older brother kept seeing everyone’s faults, but his own. He pointed out his brother’s faults and his father’s faults for not giving him a celebration. Getting offended and continuing to bring up the offense hurts ourselves more than it does the person that offended us. We hurt ourselves when we get offended and continue to bring up the offense. We need to let it go. We just end up making ourselves miserable.

“A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.” Proverbs 18:19

6. It is always angry & jealous when someone it is angry at gets blessed.

The older brother was angry and jealous because his younger brother was getting a celebration and his father was giving him the celebration.

Love is not easily angered and Love is not jealous. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

Joyce made a good point about Forgiveness. She said it is a decision, not a feeling. We have to make a decision to forgive and we have to refuse to be offended.

She said even once we decide to forgive, the feelings may not change right away.

When you choose to forgive someone:

1. stop talking about the person who hurt you

2. stop talking about what they did

3. stop thinking about it

4. start praying for them.

She said once we do that, our feelings will start to change. It is hard to stay angry at someone when you pray for them.

Forgiving others will make your life better! Often times the people we are angry at and feel hurt by do not even realize they did anything to hurt us. And often times, we may hurt others and do not even realize that we have hurt them. Offense and unforgiveness is a dangerous thing.  Unforgiveness not only hurts ourselves, but others around us. It also keeps us from enjoying our lives. It is a form of bondage and slavery.

In the story of the prodigal son, the older brother only made himself miserable by not wanting to go to the party and celebrating his brother’s return. Why not just join the party and celebrate? He could have been so much happier by just letting go of his unforgiveness, offense, and jealousy and joining in the celebration!

Choose to forgive others! It will set you free!