“To err is human, to forgive, divine.” – Alexander Pope
As we go through life, not one of us is immune to being hurt by someone or hurting someone else. It will happen on purpose, by mistake or we may not realize we have even hurt someone. Basically, people are people. We live in a body of flesh that is imperfect in all ways and we must understand that no one is perfect.
God’s word clearly teaches if we have an issue with a sister or brother we need to take it to them in an effort to bring about restoration and reconciliation. In today’s world of technology we have brought this to a new level by taking it to our sister or brother via text messages or emails. This has enabled us to become bold with our words we use toward others because we are hiding behind this technology. How can a true discussion that will result in restoration and reconciliation take place when you are not willing to sit down with the other person to work it out?
I’ve been doing some studying about forgiveness and really trying to dig in and grasp its meaning. First, we must realize that forgiveness is the very center of the gospel. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 (NIV) All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
So we are commissioned to take the message of forgiveness to the world. God has forgiven us a life of sin yet we hold all sorts of things against each other. How can we take the gospel message to the world when we can’t forgive others as Christ has forgiven us?
It’s something we all need to pray about and think about. Mark 11:25-26 (NLT) But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too. Friends this is a clear spiritual command from God’s Word. Forgiveness requires an act of your free will to obey God’s command. I have found many scriptures that have talked about forgiveness; however, this one really sets in how important forgiveness is to God. If you do not forgive, your Father in heaven will not forgive you. Wow! Do you get that; that’s serious? When you forgive you free yourself from forgiveness and strife. God does not look upon forgiveness favorably. Bottom line, you cannot have God’s forgiveness unless you forgive.
We are told by Jesus that we would know who a person really is by their fruit, by the life this person produces. The lack of forgiveness means the forgiveness that Christ has given them has not taken root in their lives. Therefore, if a person lives with forgiveness it shows that they probably don’t understand the payment that Christ made upon the cross. I know this is a hard teaching but it is God’s command and it is serious stuff.
Whether or not you understand why a person hurt you does not really matter. If they ask for forgiveness we must choose to forgive them. After all Jesus shed his blood for all the sins that we have or ever will commit.
In Matthew 18: 21 – 35 we read The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. In verse 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In this parable what is sticking out for me is that an unforgiving person is looked at as a wicked person. At the very least, they are giving Satan a foothold into their life. When we allow him a little entrance by having an unforgiving heart it will lead to all sorts of battles and attacks.
Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV) 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.
Listen, every offense we hold on to allows Satan an opportunity to bring hardheartedness, bitterness and strife. When we choose not to forgive someone our prayer life will be hindered, God will treat us how we treat others, God will not forgive us and we open the door to all kinds of evil spirits and schemes of the enemy. Is forgiveness really worth any of that?
Luke 6:36-38 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Where are you with forgiveness; do you need to receive it or give it? Friends, we need to do a heart check. We need to bow down before God’s throne and ask Him to reveal any forgiveness we may have towards someone.
With many situations I strongly believe that we are unable to meet an expectation that is placed upon you and when you fail to meet that expectation they became offended. This is especially true when it concerns people in leadership.
Every believer must learn how to live and walk in forgiveness. This totally goes against our human nature because in order to live and walk in forgiveness we must put aside our pride and humble ourselves before others.
We must realize there are many reasons why a person may not forgive you. Perhaps, they didn’t really value the relationship and were willing to throw it away instead of restore it. Maybe, they don’t want to be vulnerable and they use forgiveness as a shield because of past hurts. Or pride may be at the center of forgiveness.
Whatever the underlying issues are we must focus on the examples of Jesus. We need to stop focusing on the offender and the hurt and forgive as Jesus forgave his offenders.
To that end, I encourage you to seek God and close all doors to the enemy. Make the commitment now to let go of all bitterness, strife, resentment and unforgiveness. It is time for the body of Christ to come to maturity in this area.