The words “Forgiveness” “Forgive” and “Forgiving” are a prominent theme throughout the Bible but yet Christians still have questions about forgiving others.
We are all sinners and yet God loves us unconditionally. God will not forgive us if we can’t do the same. “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.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
However, make no mistake – forgiveness is a choice. God gave us free will after all. God will never make you forgive anyone that has hurt you but what are the implications of not doing this?
Unforgiveness only incarcerates yourself in the past and therefore the only person you are truly hurting is yourself. This leads to bitterness and resentment (I do not talk of this subject lightly. I have been in this situation many times throughout my life as you can read in my testimony)
If you can think of the person or situation that hurt you, then you will probably have a heavy heart, feel low or even angry. This in itself is debilitating. It keeps the past in the present and God can’t heal the open wound without you letting go – forgiveness sets you free.
When we get to the point of being angry with the person in question, then this generally leads to revenge. Your mind starts to build scenarios about how you are going to “get back” at them as “they deserve it”
God does not want us to be bitter toward those who have hurt us: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit – Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:30-31)
Unforgiveness also leads to Satan being able to get a foothold into our lives. “In your anger do not sin – Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27)
Satan welcomes any opportunity to push you to the limits. Do not let the Devil isolate you, as he is on a mission to destroy our Faith in God.
If we find salvation in Jesus Christ, then forgiving others is an option, that cannot be avoided. “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)
The bible talks not only about God forgiving our sins but also our responsibility to forgive those that have hurt us. Forgiveness is not just about us but also about our own spiritual growth. Love and forgiveness cannot separated.
One of the most famous prayers is “The Lord’s Prayer” It states “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.” (Luke 11:4) Most of us were taught this prayer as a child and can recite it from beginning to end but we probably can’t explain what the whole prayer means.
Jesus didn’t say this prayer in order for us to easily remember the words but to affirm what God wants us to do and teaches us about our needs, to continue on a spiritual path.
God can’t forgive our sins, if we do not acknowledge that we have sinned in the first place! Asking for forgiveness allows the Holy Spirit to help us stop repeating the offence and dishonoring God. We cannot go through life without the temptation that Satan brings to the world and therefore we need to be fully dependent on God.
So in order for us to still receive Gods mercy, grace and peace – we need to forgive. Otherwise we are no better than those who wronged us.