FORGIVING THE PEOPLE WHO’VE HURT US PART 6

In this final installment of my blogs on forgiveness I continue looking at some of the misconceptions that people have about forgiveness.

 

4. FORGIVENESS MUST BE FROM THE HEART.  In the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18, our Lord concludes with this note of warning: So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses (Matthew 18:35).  The  Lord, brethren, wants  us  to  forgive  from our  heart. That’s  an important thing to note because, since God requires us to forgive, it’s easy for us to mutter the words “I forgive” as a matter of duty, obligation, or formality without really meaning it in our heart. This isn’t forgiveness: it’s hypocrisy and a lie. Forgiveness isn’t merely a matter of saying “I forgive.” It’s not just words!

 

Forgiveness is an act whereby you pardon the offender and it’s an attitude of heart whereby you harbor no hatred, resentment, or malice towards the offender. True forgiveness doesn’t harbor resentment. It doesn’t seek punishment or retaliation. Why? Because forgiveness has determined within its own heart that the offender will be pardoned, freed, and forgiven for what he or she has done: there will be no punishments and there will be no remembrances of past wrongs. FORGIVENESS, I’M SAYING, ISN’T FORGIVENESS UNTIL IT’S FROM THE HEART. IN THE VERNACULAR, UNTIL YOU MEAN IT.

 

 5. FORGIVENESS RESULTS IN A REINSTATEMENT TO, OR RESUMPTION OF, FELLOWSHIP.  Sin severs us from communing or fellowshipping with God. It separates us so that fellowship isn’t possible. But when we repent, when God forgives us, He reinstates us to fellowship. The communion is restored and we can fellowship with God once more. You see, FORGIVENESS DOESN’T LEAVE US ALIENATED AND SEPARATED FROM GOD. Sin does that, but forgiveness doesn’t. When God forgives us, He doesn’t leave us alienated from His presence or fellowship. He receives us and restores us.

 

Now as humans, when we’ve been wronged and hurt the tendency is to sever or terminate whatever relationship, friendship, or fellowship we had  with the person who hurt us.  We don’t  want to have anything more to do with that person. This is only natural.

 

But, brethren, is this forgiveness? Is this what God does to us? Is this how He treats us? What good is it to be forgiven by God if we can’t fellowship and commune with God again? Does one sin, even though God has already forgiven it, leave us forever separated and alienated from God? When we get to Heaven as blood-washed, sin-forgiven Christians, will God confine us to a part of Heaven where He can never see us and where we can never come before Him and worship Him? Will the alienation continue into eternity? Absurd, isn’t it?

 

And yet, this is precisely what many of us do when we “forgive” others–especially family, friends, and brethren–but refuse to have anything more to do with them. And the question is, Is this forgiveness? Or is this alienation part of the punishment we’ve meted and part of the resentment we harbor? Brethren, have you forgiven from the heart?

 

Paul says a couple of very interesting things in two passages of Scripture. The first is in 2 Corinthians 2 and it has to do with a case of church discipline involving a brother in the Lord who was involved in fornication. After the man repented of his sin, Paul wrote the church  about what they should do with the now-repentant brother.

 

Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. {7} So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. {8} Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. {9} For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. {10} To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; {11} Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:6-11). 

 

Paul  was  telling the church  to forgive  the brother and receive him back into the church. Unforgiveness is a terrible thing and it’s one of Satan’s devices that we mustn’t be ignorant of. UNFORGIVENESS IS OF THE DEVIL. While the Scripture text is speaking about a matter of sin and church discipline, Paul nevertheless states what the church’s responsibility is when an errant member has repented: the brother or sister should be forgiven and restored to the church.

 

This he says in effect in Galatians 6:1, Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Now this word restore means to mend, fix, or repair. Something has been broken, it’s still broken, and to restore it means to put the broken pieces back together again.

 

You see, sin is disruptive to the church. But it’s also disruptive to the erring member. It adversely affects his soul. You think you’re hurting because of what somebody did to you? Brethren, the offending person is hurting even more! I know that’s hard for you to believe, especially when that person doesn’t show any sign of remorse or conviction for what they’ve done to you. But take it on authority of God’s Word, take it by faith: sin hurts the sinner. It always does. They’ve got to answer to God for their actions and until they’ve repented, they’ve got God’s punishment to look forward to. Believe me, they’re hurting.

 

Now when an offender repents, it’s God’s will for the church to take such a one and fix him or her up, make them spiritually healthy and whole again. The church’s responsibility is not merely to say “We forgive.” Our responsibility doesn’t stop there! It’s the church’s duty to receive the repentant offender, to fix him or her, and nurture them back to spiritual health. In a word, we receive, not alienate. We minister, not cut off.

 

Now some offenders choose not to come back to us or to the church. Like I said earlier, some don’t ask for forgiveness, some don’t apologize. But from our point of view, we forgive anyway and we leave the door of communion, fellowship, friendship, or restoration, open to them. Do you remember the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15? He had a father and a home to come back to. Do you know why? Because the father left the door and the home open to him. The father, though hurt by his son’s decisions and actions, did not alienate and disown his son.

 

Brethren, leave the door open to family members, friends, and brethren who have hurt you. FORGIVENESS ISN’T FORGIVENESS IF YOU’RE CUTTING PEOPLE OFF. That’s why you need love. That’s why you need to forgive from the heart. When love is in the heart, the door of friendship is opened and the hands of fellowship are extended. How we need to love! Open your hearts, brethren, and God will give you love. May God bless you richly and give you grace to forgive. 

FORGIVING THE PEOPLE WHO’VE HURT US PART 5

THE NATURE OF FORGIVENESS

            1. FORGIVENESS APPLIES ONLY WHEN A TRESPASS HAS BEEN COMMITTED.  Many people say, “I’ll never forgive him for what he did to me,” or  “I can’t forgive her for what she said about me.”  People, I’m saying, have a hard time forgiving someone because of what this someone did to them. But that’s precisely the point! FORGIVENESS HAS MEANING ONLY IN THE CONTEXT OF SIN OR WRONG. A person who hasn’t done anything wrong doesn’t need to be forgiven. Who stands in need of forgiveness? Who do you forgive? Those who have done something wrong! In your case, the person who hurt you is the person you need to forgive.

Brethren, THE FACT THAT SOMEONE HAS DONE YOU WRONG ISN’T REASON OR JUSTIFICATION FOR YOU NOT TO FORGIVE THEM: IT’S ALL THE MORE REASON FOR YOU TO FORGIVE THEM! If they didn’t do anything wrong to you, you wouldn’t need to forgive them. But now, because they have done something wrong to you, you must forgive. You forgive them because they’ve done something wrong to you. Forgiveness, you see, has meaning only in the context of sin or wrong. No wrong, no forgiveness. And the thing of it is, their trespass against you gives rise to your need to forgive them. They offend, you forgive.

Now make no mistake, no one is condoning, excusing, or justifying the trespass that was committed against you. WHAT’S WRONG IS WRONG. But the fact of the matter still remains: the commission of a trespass creates the need for forgiveness. No trespass, no forgiveness. But with the trespass comes the need for forgiveness.

            2. FORGIVENESS MEANS YOU DON’T PUNISH OR RETALIATE.  What is forgiveness? Forgiveness is pardon from punishment. It’s pardon, not punishment. For the offender, it means no punishment suffered. And for the  offended,   it   means  no   punishment   inflicted.   FORGIVENESS,  MY FRIENDS, MEANS YOU’RE NOT GOING TO PUNISH THOSE WHO’VE HURT YOU. Just as a state or presidential pardon stops or prevents a prison warden from executing a criminal, in like manner, forgiveness stops or prevents you from punishing the offender. The pardon that forgiveness gives prohibits you from retaliating and taking vengeance against those who have done you wrong. Forgiveness means pardon. And pardon, for the offended, means there will be no punishment meted against the offender.

Brethren, do you find yourself wanting to retaliate against those who’ve hurt you? Are you wanting to see the offender punished? Do you long to see the offender suffer for what he’s done? Do you find yourself wanting to be Judge, Jury, and Executioner?  If so, then you haven’t forgiven. No matter how many times you say “I forgive,” and no matter how many times you tell yourself you’ve forgiven, YOU HAVEN’T REALLY FORGIVEN UNTIL YOU’VE LET GO OF THE STONES, LET GO OF THE SWORD, AND RESOLVED IN YOUR HEART THAT THERE WILL BE NO STONING OR EXECUTION OF THE OFFENDER, NO PUNISHMENT METED–NOT FROM YOUR HAND. Leave the punishment to God and the authorities. Let them decide what punishment, if any, is due. Quit thinking of ways to get even or get back. Quit longing to see the offender suffer. FORGIVENESS, BRETHREN, DOESN’T THINK IN TERMS OF PUNISHMENT: IT THINKS IN TERMS OF PARDON. When you forgive somebody you’re making a conscious and willful decision not to punish that somebody. You’re relinquishing your self-appointed right to take vengeance and hurt in return. Brethren, God doesn’t ask you to punish: He commands you to forgive.

            3. FORGIVENESS HARBORS NO RESENTMENT TOWARDS THE OFFENDER.  When God forgives you He forgets all about your sin. He blots it out of His mind and memory (Jeremiah 31:34). He takes your sin and dumps it in the deepest depths of the sea (Psalm 103:12, Micah 7:19). Can you, with your naked eye, see what’s at the bottom of the sea? Of course not. When God dumps your sin in the deepest sea it’s His way of saying He removes your sin from His sight, He doesn’t see it, He forgets all about it. The blood of Jesus wipes away the sin, it covers the sin, so that God does not see it.

Brethren, when you forgive the offender you must forget the offense. This is something that’s not easily done, especially when the Devil and the flesh like dredging things up so that you can get all mad and bitter again. But it’s something you’ve got to apply yourself to and, in many instances, it takes time. Some things are never forgotten. But they can be forgotten in the sense that, like God, you get the offense out of mind and out of sight. Don’t think about it. Don’t talk about it. Don’t bring the subject up. Refuse to dredge up past wrongs and injustices. Leave the past in the past. And leave what’s forgiven and under the blood, forgiven and under the blood.

LOOKING BACK AND REMEMBERING, OR MEDITATING ON, PAST WRONGS IS WHAT FUELS RESENTMENT AND BITTERNESS.  You’re resentful and bitter because you remember the wrongs and injustices you’ve had to suffer. And the cure for those maladies of the soul is to forgive and forget. Read what our Lord said in Mark 11:25, And when ye stand praying, forgive, if  ye have ought against  any:  that  your  Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. In other words, our Lord is saying if you have anything against anybody–a resentment, grudge, or hard feeling–the thing to do with that is forgive. FORGIVENESS PUTS AN END TO RESENTMENT. You see, forgiveness means you’re not only relinquishing your self-appointed right to take vengeance: it also means you’re relinquishing your self-appointed right to be bitter or resentful. You’re giving up your self-appointed right to hold a grudge or wear a chip on your shoulder. As I already said, that’s not easily done. But with the Lord’s help, you can do it.

And most importantly, perhaps hardest of all, brethren, YOU MUST LOVE THOSE WHO HURT YOU. That’s not natural! It’s supernatural and it takes the grace of God to do that. But the thing of it is, you can do it with God’s grace: you can love. Friends, FORGIVENESS BEGINS WITH LOVE. YOU CAN’T FORGIVE WITH HATRED IN YOUR HEART. You can’t forgive, not truly, without love. Why is that? Because love, the Bible says, covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Hatred stirs up strifes, but love covers all sins (Proverbs 10:12). All sins. Love does. What the blood of Jesus is to sin in God’s sight, so love is in our sight: love covers all sins and removes them from our sight. Brethren, quit trying to uncover the past wrongs of others. Leave them covered. Love. Love covers. Forgiveness pardons and forgets. Love.

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 6. In this final installment in forgiving others I continue looking at the nature of forgiveness. It’s hard and crucifying, but it’s the medicine that cures an aching heart. Bring the cross. God will give the grace.

FORGIVING THE PEOPLE WHO’VE HURT US PART 4

I’m looking at some popular misconceptions that people have about forgiveness. We looked at four of them in my last post, now here’s another three.

            5. YOU DON’T NEED AN APOLOGY BEFORE YOU FORGIVE.  When we go to the Lord for forgiveness, God requires us to repent and confess our sins. It’s kind of like an apology. Brethren, we need to apologize and ask for forgiveness when we’ve done something wrong. If we’ve wronged the Lord we need to apologize to the Lord. And if we’ve wronged someone we need to apologize to that someone. Apologies are required!

But from our perspective as the wronged or offended party, we don’t need to wait for an apology before we forgive the offender. JUST BECAUSE THE GUILTY PERSON HASN’T APOLOGIZED OR ASKED FOR OUR FORGIVENESS DOESN’T MEAN WE DON’T HAVE TO FORGIVE! Forgiveness, I’m saying, doesn’t wait for an apology before it will forgive.

Do you remember one of the last things Jesus said as He hung on the cross? Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34). Do you suppose Jesus ever asked for something that the Father refused to give Him? Now get this. Jesus has been crucified by the Romans and the Jews. None of them–aside from Jesus’ followers maybe–were asking God to forgive them for that crucifixion. And yet Jesus was asking His Father to forgive them! Didn’t these crucifiers of our Lord need to apologize and ask for forgiveness before God forgave them? Why, then, was Jesus asking His Father to forgive them when they hadn’t yet asked for forgiveness?

Make no mistake. Like I said already, IF A PERSON HAS SINNED AGAINST, OR WRONGED, SOMEONE, THEY NEED TO APOLOGIZE FOR IT. But from our perspective as the offended party, we forgive even if an apology hasn’t yet been made. We forgive even in the absence of an admission of guilt or wrong. And we forgive even in the absence of a request for forgiveness.

Why should we forgive even in the absence of an apology? Because as humans, FORGIVENESS KEEPS US FROM  BEING   RESENTFUL   OF   WHAT  A  PERSON  HAS  DONE TO US.  If we’re already resentful, forgiveness puts an end to that resentment. Do you see what I’m saying? We forgive even when the guilty person hasn’t yet met his responsibility of apologizing because forgiveness keeps us from having, or holding on to, bad feelings and attitudes toward this person. In a sense, WE FORGIVE NOT ONLY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE OFFENDER, BUT FOR OUR OWN BENEFIT AS WELL.

So does the absence of an apology mean we don’t have to forgive? If it did, we would be waiting a long time to forgive, and perhaps forever, because some people take years to apologize–if they apologize at all. The result? The sin goes unforgiven and we ourselves remain unforgiven by God. Brethren, don’t wait for an apology to forgive. Whether an offending person has met his responsibility or not, God still says, Forgive!

            6. BEING INNOCENT IN AN OFFENSE DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY MEAN WE’RE INNOCENT.  Just because we’ve been wronged and are consequently the innocent party in a trespass doesn’t automatically mean we’re entirely innocent in the eyes of the Lord. You see, unforgiveness itself is a sin. And though we’ve suffered wrong, having done no wrong; that doesn’t mean we’re totally innocent in the sight of the Lord. UNFORGIVENESS MAKES US EVERY BIT AS WRONG AS THE OFFENSE THAT WAS COMMITTED AGAINST US! Being unforgiving, we’re wrong just like the offender! Brethren, don’t wait for an apology before you forgive. Forgive and don’t open the door to unforgiveness. Forgive because without it you yourself stand in need of forgiveness for the sin of unforgiveness. Friends, NO CRIME COMMITTED AGAINST YOU, NO SUFFERING INFLICTED UPON YOU, IS WORTH BEING UNFORGIVEN BY GOD. IT’S JUST NOT WORTH IT.

7. FORGIVENESS ISN’T DEPENDENT ON FEELING OR EMOTION.  Many people wait to feel good before they forgive. This is, in part, why it takes a long time for people to forgive. I suppose it’s part of the healing process. They say time heals all hurts. But the thing we must note is that forgiveness isn’t dependent on a feeling or emotion. It’s not something we do when we feel like doing it. Forgiveness is a duty or obligation we have from God. We forgive because God tells us to forgive. Now, as we shall see in our following commentary, there’s a lot more to forgiveness than just duty. But what we’re trying to emphasize here is that we forgive because we have to–not because we feel like it. Make no mistake. It’s nice to feel like forgiving. But forgiveness isn’t dependent on a feeling. We don’t wait to feel like forgiving before we forgive.

THE MEANING OF FORGIVENESS

There are several Hebrew and Greek words used for forgiveness and the essence of them all is pardon. To forgive someone means to pardon, spare, or release them from the penalty or punishment of sin.

Sin, you see, carries with it a penalty or punishment. From God’s point of view, that punishment is eternal death or damnation in Hell’s fires.  We are told in Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death. When God forgives us He frees us from having to suffer that punishment. The consequence? We don’t have to go to hell. Forgiveness, you see, pardons and frees us from having to suffer the penalty of our sins.

Now from our point of view, when someone sins against us there are all kinds of punishment possible. Speaking strictly as a human being and not necessarily as a Christian, we can kill them, injure them, harass them, divorce them, file a lawsuit against them, exact  financial compensation from them, and so on. TO FORGIVE SOMEONE, THEN, MEANS WE DON’T PUNISH THEM FOR WHAT THEY’VE DONE TO US. Forgiveness pardons the offender and releases or spares them from suffering the penalty of their offense. And, in the same measure, our FORGIVENESS RESTRAINS OR PROHIBITS US FROM RETALIATING OR INFLICTING HARM UPON THOSE WHO HAVE HARMED US.

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 5. Some eye-opening insights into the nature of forgiveness. If you’re having a really hard time forgiving someone this next post could well hold the key that frees you from the shackles of unforgiveness. Come on by and be a part of D Day.

FORGIVING THE PEOPLE WHO’VE HURT US PART 3

SOME MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT FORGIVENESS

            1. FORGIVENESS ISN’T DEPENDENT ON THE NATURE OR THE SEVERITY OF THE OFFENSE.  Our Lord’s call to forgive others isn’t dependent on what kind of offense has been committed against us or how serious that offense is. He didn’t tell us to forgive everything except rape or murder. He didn’t say we’re to forgive all trespasses except those that have injured our pride or reputation. His instructions weren’t that we’re to forgive every trespass except those that inflict permanent bodily suffering on ourselves or our closest loved ones. He gave no command to forgive only accidental offenses and innocent mistakes, but not intentional ones. Do you see what I’m saying? God simply said, Forgive! HE DIDN’T SINGLE OUT A TRESPASS OR MAKE UP A LIST OF TRESPASSES THAT ARE EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE OF FORGIVENESS. Despite the sin or the seriousness of that sin, no matter how much we’ve suffered because of the offense, the Lord tells us, Forgive!

            2. FORGIVENESS ISN’T DEPENDENT ON THE NUMBER OF TIMES THE OFFENSE HAS BEEN COMMITTED.  It doesn’t matter how many times someone has wronged us or how many times we’ve had to suffer the injustice. The Lord tells us, Forgive!  Peter came to the Lord one day and asked, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? (Matthew 18:21). You see, it’s a human tendency to limit how many times we’re going to forgive someone. There’s a limit to how much we’re going to take and how long we’re going to take it. And when this final line has been crossed, we’re not going to forgive anymore! Why not? “Because we’re only empowering and encouraging that person to do it all over again! He’s not taking it seriously! He’s not learning his lesson! We’ve got to put our foot down and say, No more!”

The only thing about it is, Jesus did not limit the number of times we’re supposed to forgive someone. In answer to Peter’s question, Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22). When Jesus said to forgive seventy times seven, He effectively declared our supply of forgiveness to be an infinite, inexhaustible supply. In other words, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been wronged and how many times this person has done this to you. The Lord says, Forgive!

            3. FORGIVENESS ISN’T DEPENDENT ON THE IDENTITY OF THE OFFENDER.  It doesn’t matter who the offender is. They may be a complete unregenerate or a brother in the Lord. They may be a friend or foe. An acquaintance or stranger. A relative or family member. A here-to-fore upright member of society or habitual criminal. A white man or a black one. A  Hispanic  or  an  Asian.  A  woman  caught  in  weakness  or  a  prostitute. It doesn’t matter who hurt us. All the Lord said was, Forgive!

Brethren, do you have a hard time forgiving some people? A husband who’s been unfaithful to you? A wife who’s left you for another man? A pastor who rebuked you and placed you under church discipline? A five-fold minister who’s lied about you? A doctor who urged you to abort? A judge who sentenced you to ten years in prison? An habitual offender on parole who killed a loved one? Brethren, all that doesn’t matter to the Lord. THE OFFENSE, THE OFFENDER, AND THE NUMBER OF TIMES THE OFFENSE HAS BEEN COMMITTED AGAINST YOU, DO NOT DETERMINE WHO YOU’LL FORGIVE AND HOW MANY TIMES YOU’LL FORGIVE. As a sin-washed, blood-bought Christian, you will forgive regardless!

            4. DEFERRING, AND THEN FORGETTING ALL ABOUT, FORGIVENESS DOESN’T MEAN YOU’VE FORGIVEN.  What often happens when people have a hard time forgiving someone is, they defer forgiving that person until they have right feelings or attitudes. They postpone forgiving until the Lord changes their heart about the person or the crime. It’s too convicting to think about being unforgiving right now, so people generally forget all about the command to forgive. Naturally, as time passes and turns into years, people forget all about forgiving.

But the thing about forgiveness is, YOU HAVEN’T FORGIVEN UNTIL YOU FORGIVE. Deferring forgiveness for a later time and then forgetting all about it doesn’t mean you’ve forgiven and everything’s right between you and the offender or between you and the Lord. If you haven’t forgiven, you haven’t forgiven. Brethren, just because you’ve forgotten about forgiveness and your memory or conscience doesn’t bother you about it, doesn’t mean you’ve forgiven. After all these years, just when you think you’ve forgotten all about it, the Lord says, Forgive!

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 4. I’ll look at another 3 misconceptions that people have about forgiveness, then I discuss the meaning of forgiveness. I don’t mean to be repetitive, but it’ll be a really good post. Drop by for a visit and you’ll be blest.

FORGIVING THE PEOPLE WHO’VE HURT US PART 1

INTRODUCTION

I’d like to talk to you about one of the hardest things for people to do, and that is, forgive. You see, we have all been wronged at some point in our life. We have suffered the sins, the abuses, the offenses, of others. We might have been sexually or verbally abused by family and loved ones, by enemies and friends. We might have been lied to or lied about. We might have been terribly humiliated. We might have been cheated out of a huge sum of money, property, goods, or inheritance. We might have been given bad advice–perhaps by a doctor, a counselor, lawyer, or friend. And heeding that advice has resulted in a lifetime of sorrow and regret. We might have been beaten and our body and mind bear the lasting pain and scars of a violent, terror-filled moment of the past. We might have seen loved ones who meant a lot to us violently or senselessly killed. On and on the list may go. We have all been wronged in the past and perhaps even now in the present we are suffering the wrongs, the offenses, the sins, and injustices, of   others.

 

The  guilty  culprit  may  be  a  member of  the family,  a  member of the  church, a  relative, a  former  friend  or  acquaintance, a  pastor, doctor, lawyer, dentist, banker, policeman, neighbor, criminal, stranger, or complete unknown.

 

We’ve had no great problems forgiving most people and forgiving most offenses. But the one or two, like a Goliath, defy forgiveness. It’s taken a long time and the offender has yet to be forgiven. Yea, saith the Lord, you must forgive! Brethren, we stand in need of forgiveness ourselves. For this reason, we stand obligated and commanded by our Lord to forgive. Brethren, we must forgive!

 

SOME BENEFITS OF FORGIVENESS 

If the people of this world were more forgiving there would be a lot less crime that’s motivated by unforgiveness, hatred, and retaliation. There would be less murder and homicide. Less gang violence. Less vandalism. Less stalking and harassment. If people were more forgiving there would be less sick people. Less divorce. Less people in prison. And less people in Hell. If we in the church were more forgiving of one another there would be less animosities and strifes within the church. There would be less criticisms and back-biting. Less fights. Less divisions. Less church splits. Less people leaving the church.

 

The result? The church would be bigger, stronger, and more united to withstand the attacks of the enemy against the church. We would be bigger, stronger, and more united to be a positive testimony of the power of Christ’s transforming love. We would be bigger, stronger, and more united to do the work God has given the church to do.

 

THE CALL TO FORGIVE

As you know all too well, the Lord calls us to forgive. Ephesians 4:32 reads, And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Forgiveness is not an option. It’s not something we can choose not to do if we don’t want to. God commands us to forgive. It’s His will that we forgive. Therefore, REGARDLESS OF HOW WE FEEL ABOUT IT OR HOW HARD IT MIGHT BE FOR US TO DO, WE ARE OBLIGATED BY OUR LORD TO FORGIVE. WE SIMPLY HAVE NO CHOICE IN THE MATTER.

 

Colossians 3:12-14 exhorts us, Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; {13} Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. {14} And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

 

The thing we see in this passage of Scripture is, forgiveness is an inseparable part of the Christian life. Just as Christians have been forgiven by God, so Christians are to forgive. Christians are, by their God-given nature, a forgiving people. They’re not unforgiving. They forgive.

 

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 2, The Importance Of Forgiving Others. Think it isn’t that important? You’d better think twice about that. Don’t miss this eye-opening, heart-convicting post. The Good Doctor has examined your heart and you’re on next for life-saving surgery. Check in early for the Spirit’s pre-op.

FORGIVING THE PEOPLE WHO’VE HURT US PART 2

THE IMPORTANCE OF FORGIVING 

The importance of forgiving others can be seen in the consequences of not forgiving them. If we don’t forgive those who’ve hurt us, we’ll  suffer dearly for it. The  greatest and gravest of these consequences is, GOD WON’T FORGIVE US. Matthew 6:14-15 reads, For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: {15} But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. The latter portion of Luke 6:37 similarly reads, forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. Respecting our sins and forgiveness, God treats us the same way we treat others. If we forgive them, God forgives us. If we don’t forgive them, God doesn’t forgive us. Brethren, it’s important for us to forgive others because it’s important for us to be forgiven ourselves.

Here are two questions for you to ponder. As a prelude to my first question, we know that our forgiveness by God is conditioned upon repentance of our sin, confession, and a plea for forgiveness. II Chronicles 7:14 reads, If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. In order for us to be forgiven by God it’s important for us to acknowledge our sin. I John 1:9 reads, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Now my first question is this. If we confess our sins and repent of them, will God forgive us even if we haven’t forgiven someone else? If we didn’t forgive a person ten years ago when the crime or offense was committed, does that mean our sins for the past ten years have gone unforgiven by God? Are we unforgiven right this very moment? You tell me the answer and I’ll still tell you, GOD DOESN’T FORGIVE THOSE WHO DON’T FORGIVE. Friends, it’s really that important for you to forgive!

Now my second question is this: If we are good Christians and live the way Christians live, for the most part, and we’re exemplary and upright  for  the  most  part;  but  we  haven’t  forgiven  someone,  and consequently,  we  aren’t  forgiven  ourselves by  God; then  when  we  stand before the judgment throne in Heaven, will God kick us out of Heaven and cast us in Hell because we aren’t forgiven? Or will He quickly forgive us as we stand before Him and allow us to remain in Heaven? You see, the question is, if God doesn’t forgive us while we’re on this earth because we haven’t forgiven others, will He then forgive us when we get to eternity? If we haven’t repented of our unforgiveness while on this earth, will the Lord allow us to repent before the throne and thereby keep our names in the Lamb’s Book of Life? Tell me what you think and I’ll still tell you, GOD TREATS YOU AND YOUR SINS THE SAME WAY YOU TREAT OTHERS AND THEIR SINS.

Do you remember the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18? The servant had a huge debt, but his master forgave him. This same servant went out and found a fellow servant who owed him some money. The servant, however, couldn’t repay the debt, and so, the servant who had been forgiven by his master had him thrown into prison. Do you remember what the master said to this unmerciful servant? Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: {33} Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? {34} And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. {35} So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses (Matthew 18:32-35).

Brethren, it’s really that important for you to forgive! Forgive and you shall be forgiven. Be unforgiving and you shall be unforgiven. Now if your answer to my  second  question  should  happen  to  be,  “Yes,  even  though we’ve  been a  good Christian for the most  part, God will  still send us to Hell because we didn’t forgive others and so we weren’t forgiven ourselves,” then you must admit that living a good Christian on this earth will not help you one bit when you stand before the Judge: you’ll suffer the same fate as the people who are perverts, depraved, fornicators, drunkards, liars and criminals! Brethren, is your good Christian life now going to benefit you on judgment day?

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 3, I’ll look at some misconceptions that people have about forgiveness. It’ll be good, so don’t miss it.