Did you know that forgiveness is something God requires of every Believer? To be a Christian but hold aught and unforgiveness in your heart toward anyone is in direct opposition to the Gospel message. Every day we have opportunities to yield to the spirit of unforgiveness and opportunities to walk in love. When we make a decision to choose God’s way of handling difficult people and situations, we choose the love route. In doing so, we keep ourselves in a position where we are able to receive forgiveness from the Father.
The issue of forgiving others is critical when discussing the Christian life. There are many Believers who have deeply rooted bitterness in their hearts springing from an offense that was committed against them. Many times, it is something that happened long ago and they are still harboring it deep within. Unforgiveness and bitterness are like spiritual poison. When we don’t forgive others, we actually destroy ourselves on an emotional and spiritual level. Also, we put ourselves in danger of receiving God’s judgment because He commands us to walk in love and forgive others.
In Matthew 18:21, 22, the Apostle Peter asks Jesus an interesting question. He says, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” Peter was being facetious in his line of questioning about forgiveness, and Jesus gave him an answer I am sure He wasn’t expecting: “Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Can you imagine forgiving someone who has wronged you 490 times a day? Some of us have a hard time releasing an offense and forgiving someone once, let alone 490 times. But the point Jesus was driving home was that we must be willing to forgive instantly, automatically, and as many times as necessary.
There is so much hinging on our decision to forgive, including God’s willingness to forgive us. There are three daily necessities of every Christian: time spent in the Word of God, God’s forgiveness, and His protection. We need these things every day! That’s why we are to pray Matthew 6:11-13 daily, “Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
One of the most important reasons why we are to forgive is because our unwillingness to forgive others limits our ability to receive forgiveness from God. Matthew 18:23-35 is an important passage that emphasizes the consequences of not forgiving. It tells the story of an unforgiving servant who refused to forgive someone after he himself had been forgiven of a serious debt. When the unforgiving servant needed forgiveness from his master, he was denied. In verse 35 Jesus says, “So likewise, shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”
I don’t know about you, but I need God’s forgiveness every day of my life. None of us is perfect, and we all need continual cleansing from sin, in its many forms. When we hold unforgiveness toward others, we are preventing God from releasing His forgiveness toward us, and put ourselves in danger of even going to hell when we die— because without God’s forgiveness, we are doomed. We simply must forgive.
The solution to unforgiveness is cultivating a mind-set and a heart attitude that says, “I set my will to forgive anyone, for anything, at any time” before the offense takes place. It is essentially an attitude that is intent on walking in the love of God at any cost. That means being willing to lay aside pride and bitterness because God commands it. When we embrace forgiveness instead of offense, we open the door for God’s continual blessings to flow into our lives. Choose to forgive today!