Forgiveness - Not a choice but an obligation !
What is unforgiveness
Romans 5:8: “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (NLT).
What gives us the authority to hold grudges and harbor unforgiveness in our lives ? We do not have that authority as Christians. If Christ, whom we are imitators of loved us as sinners, we too are obligated to love those that has wronged and sinned against us. Matthew in chapter 5 and verse 44 commissions us to love our enemies! and Pray for those who persecute us. This simply tells us that no matter how much we are hurt by those around us we should forgive , love and prayer for them regardless.
In Colossians 3:12-13 (ESV) we are charged to be kind and compassionate and again forgiving towards our fellow men.
Forgiveness should never cease in our Christian walk . God told Peter in Matthew 18:21 (ESV)
that we are expected to forgive others 70 x 7 .
“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven."That's a lot isn't it?
I know this sounds very difficult to do, almost impossible. Often we ask ourselves; Why should I pray for him/ her? I was hurt dearly! She/he does not deserve my forgiveness , because I didn't deserve how they treated me! These are only a few of the excuses we make for harboring unforgiveness. Let's flip the script for a moment.
If our Lord Jesus Christ were to use the same approach we use towards others towards on us what will be our position in life? I think we would all be miserable or dead.Why should he give us salvation, grace and mercy ? we don't deserve it , why should he protect us and our families? we don't deserve it! and why does he care and deliver us from sickness, evil, abuse, brokenness and various bondage ? we definitely don't deserve it!
Everyday humans sin and grieve the Holy Spirit in one way or another and Jesus forgives us every time we request his forgiveness. Jesus is pure , loving and sin free. He sacrificed his life for sinners. Now he definitely didn't deserve to die and he doesn't deserve all the times we neglect him and disobey him after all he has done for us and continues to do. Yet he forgives us time and time again. Not only does he forgive our wrongs but he forgets about it.
“.......You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!” Micah 7:19 (NLT)Just as Jesus forgives us we obligated to forgive others.
Psalm 103:12 (NIV) “as far as the east is from the west so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
If wanting to be real imitators of Christ is not enough inspiration to forgive others. Let knowing that our lack to forgive will prevent God from forgiving us be .
Matthew 6: 14-15 tells us “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Unforgiven sins equate death , as “ the wages of sin is death”. Romans 6:23
Some other effects of unforgiveness are :
- Sabotaged repentance,answered prayers and spiritual growth.
“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you" .
Try also to make things right with others even if you think they are at fault. According to Matthew 5 23-24
“ Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.…” Again we are reminded to forgive in Ephesians 4:32 (ESV) “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
- Hurts your chances of eternal life.
Hebrews 12:14 ( ESV) “ Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”
Forget your chances of seeing God in the afterlife if you don't forgive.
- Corrupts character and healthy relationships. Hebrews 12:15 (NIV)
“ See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
Bitterness is like a weed,a little of it can kill an entire healthy plant.The hurt you harbor pollutes the stream of your daily experience, including your experience with God! It is indeed communicable, soon you may be seen as being mean and bitter even in your healthy relationships.
- “Self-victimization. Negative energy expended on others just drains your resources and robs you of the chance to fulfill your God-given potential. Stop cheating yourself. Don’t surrender your power to your grudges!” WORD FOR YOU TODAY Devotional.
- Health depletion. Holding grudges affects your emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health negatively
How to Forgive
Joyce Meyers gives practical steps on how to overcome forgiveness in her piece on The Poison of unforgiveness below:
“1. Decide – You will never forgive if you wait until you feel like it. Choose to obey God and steadfastly resist the devil in his attempts to poison you with bitter thoughts. Make a quality decision to forgive, and God will heal your wounded emotions in due time (see Matthew 6:12-14).
2. Depend – You cannot forgive without the power of the Holy Spirit. It's too hard to do on your own. If you are truly willing, God will enable you, but you must humble yourself and cry out to Him for help. In John 20:22-23 Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit!" His next instruction was about forgiving people. Ask God to breathe the Holy Spirit on you so you can forgive those who've hurt you.
3. Obey – The Word tells us several things we're to do concerning forgiving our enemies"