Forgiveness plays a key role in our spiritual walk. It helps us to develop godly relationships. On the contrary, unforgiveness makes our prayers ineffective, paralyses our strength and prevents us from receiving our healing. Unforgiveness is dangerous!
Jesus said in Mark 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses”. He does not give us a choice that when you stand praying, try and forgive if you can. But instead He commands us to “forgive”. He is never unjust to command something that we cannot do. One of the dead weights that keep people from living a successful Christian life is the fact that they harbor resentment in their hearts. The Bible instructs us to lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us (Heb 12:1). Paul says, ‘Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 3: 13, 14)’. I believe, when he said “forgetting those things” what he meant was that we ‘should not dwell on the past’. It is definitely hard to forget the past hurts or erase any painful memories. But what we can do is willingly choose not to remember them, rehearse them or dwell on them.
We can really live a life of peace and tranquility if we have the ‘will to forgive’! Jesus said in Matthew 6:15, “If you are not willing to for-give other people their trespasses against you, then your Father in heaven is going to be unwilling to forgive you your trespasses.” Unless we forgive others, we would not be forgiven of our trespasses no matter how hard we seek God for it. In order to be forgiven, we first need to be forgiving. Most often, people ‘ try to bury their past’ without dealing with life’s issues. They sweep in under the rug want-ing to cover it as much as they can. They conceal every rage and resentment with a smile on the outside. But it does not take much longer to show up in an ugly way, often pushing them to make wrong decisions in life. Why so? The reason is every unresolved resent-ment tries to escape in any possible way it could. Hatred and bitterness are like poison that will intoxicate us little by little without our own knowledge. It is truly unworthy to hold on to it. The longer we hold on to it, the harder it is to get rid of it. The Bible says, “Anger rests in the bosom of fools” (Pro 7: 9). Do we have anger in your heart? If yes, the Bible calls us fools.
First of all, determine in your heart not to hold on to the resentment. Secondly, give every resentment to the Lord one hundred percent instead of trying hard to resolve it in your own fleshly strength. Jesus said, ‘Come to me all you who labour and heavy laden and I will give you rest’ (Matt 11: 28). Jesus himself gives us a personal invitation to give them all to Him! So we must seek God’s help. Pray, “Lord, I turn all my burden to you. Search my heart and show me the reason for my hurt and I am willing to forgive”. When we willingly take a stand before God refusing to live a life of unforgiveness and desire sincerely to forgive everyone who has ever caused us pain, God would enable us to forgive, no matter how deficient we are in our strength. You’ve just got to make up your mind to release all of that hurt, pain and bitterness. Finally, do not be moved by feelings. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and not mere feelings. When we refuse to dwell on our negative feelings towards someone and look for opportunities to bless that person, both in word and in deed, as time goes by, it brings in us a change for our betterment. When symptoms of unforgiveness well up inside of us, instead of yielding to it, we must verbalize our will to forgive by speaking words in faith like “I have forgiven that person by an act of my will. In the Name of Jesus, I am not moved by what I hear or how I feel. I praise the Lord for His grace on me to forgive”. By so doing, we allow the faith and the love of God to rule over our negative feelings. The good news is ‘with God all things are possible’. God’s word says, ‘If you remember that your brother has something against you, you need to reconcile to your brother’ (Matt 5:23, 24). Many people have a real hang-up with this scripture. The Word of God does not say “if you have something against your brother” but instead it says “if your brother has something against you.” The best way to go is to get forgiveness from such a person too. Be encouraged today to go that extra mile!
The second commandment that Jesus taught is ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matt 22:40). The words ‘brother’ or ‘neighbor’ simply refers to all those whom we meet in our everyday life. The Bible instructs us to ‘have a fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins’ (1 Pet 4:8). Christ’s love in us should be so much greater and compelling that other’s shortcomings become negligible and covered by it. How wonderful would it be if every Christian gets to that place of perfection!
Are you in a position today where you think you would never be able to forgive and love someone again? When we refuse to forgive someone, what we do is we neither hurt that person nor harm God. But we only end up hurting ourselves. Therefore as we sincerely make a choice to seek God’s help and to forgive , very soon we would be surprised to see ourselves embracing that very person in love.
May the Lord help us to live a life of forgiveness in the mighty name of Jesus!. Amen