When we have been deeply hurt, we sure do not feel like forgiving. Why should we? What good does that do? They were in the wrong…so I may feel like getting back at them. I want them to pay! That may be what we feel. It may even seem like they will never have to face up to what they did to us if we forgive them. So we don’t forgive. We think that holds them hostage until they repent.
What really happens is that the unforgiveness holds us hostage instead of holding them hostage. We end up being trapped in that place in our hearts. It also begins to leak out into every area of our lives. It changes how we see people and and how we respond to them. Unforgiveness is a sin with serious consequences.
“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”
Very clearly, we risk a lot. If we refuse to forgive others, our own sins will not be forgiven. Jesus said it straight out. There is no parable that needs interpretation. There is no beating about the bush. Jesus was blunt. Forgive, or you will not be forgiven. Wow, that is a tall order. That is so often impossible for us to accomplish from the depths of our heart. But Jesus paved the way for us to be able to do this. His death on the cross paid for everyone’s sins.
I would like to talk about what forgiveness is and is not. Forgiveness is not reconciliation. It is not restoration. It is an act of will and choice to cancel a debt owed to us. When someone does something against us, they owe us a debt…not money, but a spiritual debt. Forgiveness places that debt at the cross where Christ already paid for it. Forgiveness releases us from bondage as soon as we let go of that burden of debt. The other person still owes the debt, but now he owes it to God instead of us. We no longer have to carry it. We can break the bond that holds us to the offender. We are free. Forgiveness is about freedom and peace. When God forgives us, he breaks the bond to the sin. When we forgive, the bond is broken by our choice and God’s act of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is one directional. Reconciliation is two directional. It requires both parties to be involved. When we choose to follow Christ and He forgives us, we are restored to a right relationship with God. That was a two way act involving forgiveness and reconciliation. Someone who does not acknowledge and repent of their sin cannot be forgiven of that sin. Since unforgiveness is a sin, refusing to forgive others exempts us from receiving forgiveness from God. Sin cannot enter into heaven. When we harbor the sin of unforgiveness in our hearts, that not only keeps us from being able to enter into heaven, but it ensures that our hearts have satanic strongholds.
When it is extremely difficult to forgive, that is because we believe something that keeps us from wanting to forgive. Jesus wants us all to come to Him and hear His voice. He wants to speak into our hearts, where darkness and lies reside, to give us truth. Truth wipes away everything that hinders forgiveness. When Christ is involved, it is so much easier.
I want to challenge you today. Ask God to show you if there is any place, open or hidden, where you have not forgiven someone. Evaluate how you feel about forgiving that person. If you are hesitant, find out why and ask the Lord to give you truth in the memory where you were hurt. Be sure to go to that memory and stay there as you hear from the Lord. He will dispel anything that is not from Him so that you can appropriate the truth and freely forgive from the heart. It will bring a sense of peace that you have never had in that memory which will flow through to the current time.
I pray many blessings on you all as you seek Him!