Unforgiveness - The "Grieving of the Holy Spirit" (Article 18-15)
I am, as I suspect most believers in Christ are, preoccupied with obtaining the fruits of the Holy Spirit e.g. love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Equally important to me is to understand and pursue how the seeds of the fruit are to take root and ripen (mature) within my soul. Why? I know and believe that as the fruit within me matures, so will the characteristics of Christ which will be manifested in my life. I have also spiritually grown to understand that like physical fruit needs time to grow, the fruit of the Spirit will not ripen in my life overnight. Like a successful gardener must battle against weeds to enjoy the sweet fruit they desire, I know I must constantly work to rid my life of the “weeds” of my old sinful nature that chokes out the work of the Holy Spirit (Spirit of Christ). In Ephesians 4:30-31, Paul refers to the “choking out” of the Holy Spirit as “grieving the Holy Spirit”. Specifically, he states "30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."
What Does It Mean to Grieve the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the essence of God’s nature, will and attributes (characteristics). He is the power behind our transformation into what is good and right in the eyes of the Father. When we are saved, there is an indwelling of the Holy Spirit which seals us. We become God’s property, signed and sealed. In short, our Father God is the “Sealer”; the Holy Spirit is the “Seal” itself; and Christ is the "Protector" of the seal. With our spiritual sealing comes a pattern of thinking and behavior which is familiar and acceptable to God the Father. When we sin (disobey [contradict and non-comply] the Father’s will), it is an affront to the Holy Spirit’s nature, purpose and intent. In turn, the Holy Spirit withdraws (not leaves) within our souls causing spiritual grief – a sense of emptiness, loss, sorrow and pain.
Causing Grief to the Holy Spirit Leads to Darkness. The waning away (withdrawal) of the Spirit creates a void in our soul. This void is back-filled with darkness and with it comes fear, anxiousness, and restlessness. The darkness in our souls brings forth undesirable behaviors such as bitterness, vengeance, anger, clamor (confusion) and evil thinking, thus evil behavior and speaking. One of the most prevalent consequences of darkness and personal affront (offense) to the Holy is unforgiveness. Unforgiveness brings feelings of wrath and anger from which "the sun never sets". Additionally, with unforgiveness constantly in the forefront of our thoughts, we remain restless with no hope of peace and rest that God desires for us to experience here on earth.
“Emptying Our Pit” of Unforgiveness. To begin the process of forgiveness, we must always remember that Christ is the deliverer of the seal, and it is only by abiding in Christ (and He in us [John 15:4]) can the Holy Spirit be received and connected with, for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. To understand how to forgive, I invite you to consider the following steps.
First, with Christ in mind, acknowledge your pain. Sometimes it's hard to admit you've been hurt because doing so intensifies the feelings. But you won't be able to work through the pain until you admit you're hurting. Tears are a pretty good indicator that something's wrong. So are feelings of resentment.
Second, be honest about how you feel. Even if you think you shouldn't feel that way. Admit that you don't like what happened or how you were treated and that it makes you sad or angry. Try writing these feelings in a journal or sharing them with a trusted Christian friend.
Third, remember what it feels like to be forgiven. Think about a time when you have wronged another person, maybe your parents, a sibling or a friend. You needed their forgiveness. Did that person extend forgiveness to you, or withhold it? How did it make you feel? When it comes to forgiving others, remember these words from Jesus: "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you … " (Matthew 7:12).
Fourth, let the pain go. Refuse to hold onto your hurt. Don't replay the offense over and over. Allowing yourself to get sad or angry again and again will only cause you more pain. Determine that you are going to choose to forgive your offender. Your emotions might not agree with this decision. This is where prayer comes in. Tell God you want to forgive, and ask him to change your heart toward the person who wronged you. You may want to consider voicing forgiveness to your offender either vocally or through a letter. But again, if this isn't possible, it doesn't mean you haven't expressed forgiveness.
Fifth, be persistent in your desire to forgive. If the wound was deep, you'll probably have to forgive more than once. When memories of the wrong come to mind and you find yourself getting worked up over it, immediately go to God in prayer.
Sixth, pray for those who have hurt you. Praying for those who have hurt you may be one of the most difficult undertakings to forgiveness; however, it is absolutely necessary to do so. Ask God to reveal his love to your offender. Doing so will help you to release any remaining resentment.
God Commands Us to Forgive. In implementing the above steps to forgiveness, thus the “emptying of your pit”, remember that God commands us to forgive. When Jesus taught about prayer, he stressed the importance of forgiving others (Luke 11:14). And in Mark 11:25, he says, "If you hold anything against anyone, forgive him … " Anything short of what Christ teaches us relative to forgiveness, grieves the Holy Spirit. I implore you to understand the importance of forgiveness, for forgiveness was at the heart of Christ’s incarnation, ministry, sufferance, death, and resurrection.
Forgiveness - The Heart of What It Means to Be a Christian. As such, it is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian – a believer, follower and disciple of Christ. Do not grief the Holy Spirit. Exalt and give glory to the Holy Spirit by forgiving all those who have or are hurting you. By doing so, you exalt and glorify the Father – the Giver of the Seal - and our Lord and Savior who is the protector of seal of our redemption.