Clarksville, TN – Jesus said, “Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive those who sin against you; but if you refuse to forgive them, He won’t forgive you.” (Matthew 6:14, 15)
God forgives us immediately when we confess our sins to Him. That is His nature. But if we don’t go on to forgive others, we will suffer. Unforgiveness will rob us of peace, joy, and health. God gives us the choice to forgive and be forgiven or condemn and be condemned.
Often the root of our present family problems can be found in painful experiences of our childhood. Perhaps a difficult experience with a parent, a sister, or brother still haunts us.Old wounds dictate our behavior and until they are healed, we continue to hurt those we most want to love. Without realizing it we can take our feelings from the past and bring them into our present relationships. Not only are we imprisoned by the unsettled accounts of the past, but so are the people around us. They may react to us because our behavior rubs their old wounds.
We need to ask God, “Is there any unforgiveness in me, Lord, that is making me ill or making me unhappy or that is hurting my family? We can get ourselves into situations we think are unforgiveable, but that simply isn’t true. There is no need to repress old memories or keep old wounds covered up, because the Bible says, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36 NKJV)
Jesus came to guarantee our forgiveness for everything we’ve ever done or thought of doing wrong, and to make it possible for us to forgive everything that anyone else has ever done or thought of doing against us. Our sins or the sins of others have no power to bind us when we are forgiven and are forgiving.
We can usually think of many reasons why we won’t forgive others. “How can I forgive when the people who hurt me don’t deserve to be forgiven?” It may be true, they don’t deserve to be forgiven, but we don’t either, yet God forgives us anyway.
“Repay no one evil for evil”… wrote Paul “Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17, 21) Holding onto unforgiveness is just another way of paying back evil for evil, and by our attitude we give evil the upper hand over us. The only way to conquer evil is to forgive. That is how God conquers the evil in us. When we forgive and love those who hurt us, evil loses its power over us.
“What happiness it is when others hate you and exclude you and insult you and smear your name because you are mine! When that happens, rejoice! Yes, leap for you…” (Luke 6:22, 23 AMP) You can only leap for joy when you have forgiven those who hurt you. Jesus said, “But I say to you who hear; love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who spitefully use you.” (Luke 6:27, 28 NKJV)
Some may not want that kind of opportunity to practice Christian love, but just think about it, until someone hurts you, you will never know the joy of forgiving! Not only does it help us to forgive. God has arranged it so that it also helps those we forgive, even if they are unaware that we’ve forgiven them. When we ask God “Forgive them for what they did to me,” He does just that. He uses our forgiveness in their lives to begin freeing them from their bondage of guilt and draws them closer to Himself.
Our responsibility to forgive others is put to us plainly. Unless we forgive, we keep ourselves and those who we refuse forgiveness in bondage, blocking out God’s love. Most of us put a condition on our forgiveness. We say “okay, I’ll forgive you, if you’ll change.” That’s not real forgiveness. Forgiveness means to give up any claim to compensation or payment from an offender. That means he doesn’t even owe us an apology, and we have no right to expect him to change.
To forgive means to accept that person just as he or she is even if they should continue to do the thing that hurts us over and over again. Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus replied “I don’t say to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21, 22 NKJV) If you add that up and say “Okay after 490 times I don’t have to forgive him anymore.” You missed the message.
Unforgiveness is a deadly poison that is tearing up families every day. Our resentment grows over such little things, and as we hang on to it, we don’t realize that it hides a dangerous attitude of unforgiveness. Sometimes when people ask for our forgiveness to get back at them we act like it didn’t faze us by saying things like “you didn’t hurt me, there’s nothing to forgive.” Behind those words lurks the resentment and unforgiveness. Other times we say, “sure I forgive you it was nothing.” But our actions make it clear that we haven’t forgotten the nasty thing they did and won’t let him forget it either.
If all Christians had lived up to their responsibility of loving and forgiving each other, we would have a lot fewer denominations today. It makes no difference that those who hurt you intend to do you evil. God won’t let any harm come to you unless He means it for good. If we really believe that we should be able to praise God for the people who try to hurt us. If we let ourselves rejoice in it and our forgiving God will bless us and will cause the Holy Spirit inside us to move and get rid of that thing that has been hurting us for so long. That ugly little lamp of unforgiveness that has spread like cancer to rob us of joy and health.
God knows us so well, because He made us. He knows even a little unforgiveness, nurtured in our hearts, will greatly harm us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If we suffer like that, He lays it on the line for us., “Your pain is caused by your unforgiveness. If you don’t forgive, then I can’t forgive you. But if you forgive others, I will forgive you, heal you, and set you completely free.”
Excerpt from Created To Believe: The Power of Praise Through Practical Biblical Truths written by Richard “Reason” Garrett
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