F O R G I V I N G
The only way to truly forgive, is to forgive like God forgives. “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). “…forgiving one another…even as Christ forgave you…” (Col. 3:13). Anything short of this is not true forgiveness. Christians are only kidding themselves if they do not forgive as they have been forgiven. Christians are not to refrain from acting on the love and forgiveness of God which every Gospel believer has been blessed with. God’s love and forgiveness toward His people should not only involve our rejoicing in God’s forgiveness of us, but Christians need to make sure that God’s forgiveness toward them, has a flow on effect toward their fellow man, especially toward fellow believers, and family members. To fully and truly appreciate the blessing of God’s love and forgiveness toward us, we should see to it that God’s forgiveness of us flows through us toward our neighbor. No true Christian would have it any other way.
To fully experience and appreciate the richness of God’s love and forgiveness in our lives, is to fully extend that same free flowing, unconditional love and forgiveness toward all others, and not only those we find it easy to love and forgive. To forgive not only those whom we like, but also those we may not like, particularly those who have hurt us in the past, and who may remain a source of great distress, or grief. The only way to rid oneself of such distress, or grief, is to choose to forgive from the heart. Anything less than this can only perpetuate your pain.
We need to regularly examine ourselves, and make sure that we are not deceiving ourselves by using past hurt, and bitter memories to excuse us from loving and forgiving in the same manner, and to the same degree we have been forgiven and are loved by God, or to justify an unloving and unforgiving attitude. Whatever was said to you, or done against you in the past, or present, however anyone has mistreated you, love and forgiveness must be predominant in the believer’s heart. No past sin, or hurt, etc., can possibly rival the importance and urgency of forgiveness from the heart. The need to forgive is far greater than any past sin committed against you.
When love and forgiveness are not predominant, a man is nothing. “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2). “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (1 Cor. 13:4-7). Love is free. Forgiveness cannot do without love, longsuffering, patience and a sincere dedication to the will of God. The will of God for His people is to love and forgive all. Nothing pleases God more than to see His people becoming more and more like Jesus His Son. “He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked” (1 Jn. 2:6).
One cannot be walking in love, if one puts one’s own interests ahead of others, harboring an attitude of unforgiveness toward anyone. One cannot forgive without humility, and meekness. True forgiveness can never come from a selfish, prideful, or uncharitable heart. A heart which is not in tune with the spirit of forgiveness one has been blessed with. Forgiveness is not to be made conditional. Our walk with God is not to be according to our standard, but according to God’s Word. If your forgiveness is conditional, if you have determined not to forgive someone past a certain point, your forgiveness is no different to that of the world’s. It is not true forgiveness, but a phony forgiveness which you are using in an attempt to satisfy your own interests, i.e., pacify a nagging conscience. God sees right through us. This is not the way Christians are to forgive others, for it most certainly is not the way they have been forgiven by Almighty God. To forgive others in any less a way than that in which we have been forgiven is to be no different to the heartless, unforgiving servant of Matthew 18, who begged his lord for mercy, and readily received it in the guise of having his debt completely forgiven. Immediately after this joyous event, however, the servant chose not to pass on that same spirit of forgiveness to one who owed him but a mere pittance.
When the Lord Jesus was asked how often one should forgive those who sin against us, the Lord replied “…Until seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:22). “Christ's meaning is, that a man should be all the days, and every day of his life, forgiving those that sin against him, as often as they repent and acknowledge their fault; and that no time is to be set for the exercise of the grace of forgiveness; but as often as there are objects and occasions, though ever so many and frequent, it should be used.” A Christian’s forgiveness should be unfettered and unconditional. There should be absolutely no restrictions as to whom we forgive, how often we forgive, or how much we forgive. The Christian has not been equipped with a ‘forgiveness limiter’, but with a limitless forgiveness. To not forgive is to rebel against the principle of God’s love in us. It is to rise up against the core element of what being a Christian is all about: LOVE. We are to love as we are loved, we are to forgive as we have been forgiven.
There are to be no restrictions, or conditions, attached to a Christian’s forgiveness, for any attempt to restrict how we forgive, how often we forgive, or how much we forgive, can only be something which is motivated by our sinful nature, and not the new man who is the workmanship of God. A regulated forgiveness is not Godly forgiveness. When encountering one who owed him a mere hundred pence—approximately one U.S. dollar—the servant in Matthew 18 “…laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest” (Matt. 18:28). It is the height of hypocrisy to, on the one hand, accept forgiveness from God, and then go out and not reflect that same forgiveness toward others. God’s forgiveness toward His people brings great joy to them, and from that joyfulness can only come a heartfelt desire to, in like manner, also forgive those who have sinned against them.
The Lord Jesus proceeds to inform us that the lord of that servant, upon hearing how the servant had mistreated one who owed him a minor amount, told the servant: “…after that he had called him…O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee ALL that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?” (Matt. 18:32,33). It is only natural that one who has been forgiven far more than he could ever repay, or make up for, also forgive the comparatively minor injustices that have been committed against them. “And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him” (Matt. 18:34). The Lord Jesus closes the parable with the following sobering words: “So likewise shall My heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matt. 18:35). “It is certainly the will of God, that we should forgive one another all trespasses and offences. The examples of God and Christ should lead and engage unto it; the pardon of sin received by ourselves from the hands of God strongly enforces it; the peace and comfort of communion in public ordinances require it; the reverse is contrary to the spirit and character of Christians, is very displeasing to our heavenly Father, greatly unlike to Christ, and grieving to the Spirit of God.”
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14,15 cf. Jas. 2:13). “…not that the forgiveness of others is the procuring cause of forgiveness with God, which is the blood of Christ; or of the manifestation and application of it, that is, the advocacy of Christ; nor the moving cause of it, that is, the free grace of God: but this enters into the character, and is descriptive of the persons, to whom God is pleased to make a comfortable discovery, and give a delightful sense of His pardoning grace; such persons, so disposed and assisted by His grace, may expect it of Him. On the other hand, where men are not of a forgiving temper to their fellow creatures and fellow Christians, how can they expect forgiveness at the hands of God? or what sense of pardoning grace can there be upon their minds? Had they any right apprehensions of the grace and goodness of God, in the forgiveness of their sins, this would influence their minds, and engage their hearts to forgive such who have offended them: wherefore, where this is wanting, it may be concluded of, and said to such persons, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses….There is a considerable emphasis lies upon the word ‘men’, to which ‘heavenly Father’ is opposed, and the sense, according to it, is, that if men, who are upon an equal footing with each other, should not forgive one another, how should it be expected that our Father which is in Heaven, Who is so much above, and no ways obliged to us, should forgive us?”
The Christian is to “…walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3). This is the beautiful way Christians are to live their lives, and it is the only way by which forgiveness will flow freely through us toward all those who have sinned against us. Only an ungodly attitude can prevent us from forgiving as we are to forgive. If every believer adopted the following attitude, forgiveness would pose no problem at all: All Christians are to “…in lowliness of mind…esteem other better than themselves” (Phil. 2:3). The Christian is not to allow his anger toward another to last longer than a day, for in so doing you will give the Devil a foothold in your life. “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the Devil” (Eph. 4:26,27).
To exercise an unwillingness to forgive is to grieve the Holy Spirit of God. It is a sad fact of life that so many who have been forgiven by God, are unwilling to forgive their fellow man in the same way. Even a fellow Christian for whom Christ died, and whom Christ has forgiven. Who are we, as Christians, to not forgive those whose sins have been forgiven by God Himself. It is to do despite unto Christ’s death on the cross, if we do not forgive the sins committed against us for which Christ died, and has forgiven. Our sins are, primarily against God, and yet God has forgiven all the sins of all His people. Christ’s sacrifice has paved the way for all forgiveness, God’s forgiveness of us, and our forgiveness of each other. What could possibly be preventing any Christian from forgiving all others, especially their brethren, freely and from the heart. The Christian has every reason to forgive those who have sinned against them, and absolutely no reason not to forgive. What possible justification, therefore, could any Christian have to not completely forgive others? How would you justify not forgiving anyone their sins against you, and then proceed to thank God for, and rejoice in, His forgiveness of your sins against Him?
Love and forgiveness share the closest of relations. You cannot have one without the other. True godly love makes one willing to forgive, wanting to forgive, and desiring nothing but to forgive those who have sinned against us. Godly love causes the Christian to eagerly forgive from the heart, and never with any trace of reluctance. Forgiveness should never be anything a Christian needs to be convinced of doing, but should be that which is as prominent in his heart as love is. Among the most vital directives in the whole of Scripture is the following: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:31,32). These are the impediments to true forgiveness. At the head of the list is bitterness. Bitterness has literally destroyed people’s lives. Mostly the lives of those who have harbored bitterness and resentment in their hearts. Bitterness leads to misery, and is a not too distant relative of murder. There are far more people who are guilty of murdering others in their hearts, and minds, than those who have gone on to physically commit that most heinous of crimes. The longer bitterness is allowed to have free reign in our lives, the worse it becomes. Bitterness will not go away until we demand it leave our lives forever. Bitterness leads to wrath and anger, and clamor and evil speaking, and malice. To be bitter is to walk in the way of Satan. It is to be a hateful, evil person. The Christian is to make sure that these things are far from him. People seldom permit anything to interfere with their lifestyle, to keep them from doing the things they want to do. This is the same attitude all Christians should adopt toward anything that would seek to obstruct us from freely forgiving all others. Only love and forgiveness can mercilessly evict all bitterness from one’s heart.
The best way to judge whether you are serious in not allowing bitterness a place in your heart, is to carefully observe your thoughts, words, and attitude when in the confines of your privacy. Most are expert at showing a loving and forgiving heart when in public, but how they act and think and speak in private is, sadly, often quite another story. The true character of a person is not revealed in times of adversity, but in the privacy of their own minds. The Christian is to be tenderhearted. Christians are not to be hard-hearted, but tender of heart, compassionate, merciful, always ready, and willing, to fully forgive and eagerly act in love toward those that need their forgiveness.
Christians are to forgive as they have been forgiven. How has the Christian been forgiven? FULLY AND FREELY! There are no levels, or conditions, to God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness makes way for how one is to live their life in love. Our love for God should manifest itself by way of our forgiveness toward others. God never again mentions the sins of His children which they had committed against Him. God has cast their sins behind Him (see Isa. 38:17; Psa. 103:12). God does not punish the ones He has forgiven. So too, no Christian is to punish anyone for their sins against them by way of ostracizing them from their lives. By excluding anyone, in any way from the love of God which has been shed abroad in their hearts. To not forgive is to deny someone FULL ACCESS to the love of God which has been shed abroad in every heart of every Christian. The Christian is to forgive, AND forget, and then to continue on in a relationship AS IF THE SIN HAD NEVER OCCURRED. This is not some pie in the sky notion that can only exist in theory, but is the reality every Christian must face as not only possible, but obligatory in one’s life.
True forgiveness is a conscious decision to not retaliate, or act retributively, against those who have sinned against us, and to never again raise the issue of what was done, or said, with the other person, or even in one’s own mind. The Christian is to have nothing to do with sin, in deed, word, or thought, but is to love others as oneself. Forgiveness is obedience to God, and a revolution against everything the world has taught us. To forgive is to never repay evil for evil “…but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing” (1 Pet. 3:9). The Lord Jesus says “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). How much more is the Christian to forgive his fellow believer, for whom Christ shed His very blood! The Christian life is all about “…having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous” (1 Pet. 3:8).
Sometimes, thoughts do come to our minds, reminding us of the past. Whilst we can do nothing to stop such thoughts knocking on our mind’s door, we can choose not to let them in. We can choose not to allow ourselves to dwell on past sin, but to rejoice in the love, forgiveness and way of peace we have all been called to. We can choose to rejoice not only in God’s forgiveness of our sins, but also in God’s forgiveness of the sins committed against us by others. To forgive in any less a way than how we have been forgiven by God, is a despicable act which can only come from an evil heart motivated by pride and bitterness, and a spirit of vengeance.
This is the exact opposite of how a Christian is to live their life. The Christian is commanded to love and forgive, these things are not optional, but compulsory. The only thing one can do with a command is to obey it, or disobey it. To forgive is to be a follower of God, it is to live like Him, to love like He loves, and to forgive as He forgives: without any constraint. There are no checkpoints for God’s love and forgiveness of His people, so too, the Christian is to permit NOTHING to inhibit their love toward, and forgiveness of, all others.
If God forgives us there is no justifiable reason why we should not forgive others as He has forgiven us. “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us…” (Eph. 5:1,2). God has forgiven His people far more than they will ever be called upon to forgive those who have offended them. True forgiveness acts on God’s love. I wonder how many Christians would have the courage to ask the Lord to “…forgive us our debts, AS WE FORGIVE our debtors” (Matt. 6:12).
TRUE FORGIVENESS PAVES THE WAY FOR A RESTORATION OF NORMAL RELATIONS. There can be no true reconciliation without genuine forgiveness which is no less than a restoration of relationships. What good would forgiveness do if it were not the segue to a restoration of things to how they were prior to sin? The whole point of forgiveness is to inspire peace, and promote love. To do away with that which has clogged up a relationship from being as full and free as it was before sins were committed. Anyone who doubts all this as mere wishful thinking, knows little to nothing of the power of love and forgiveness when that power is unrestricted by human pride and emotion. Love and forgiveness inspire each other. They are such beautiful words that to merely look upon them gives one a feeling of warmth and freedom. What a blessing it is to know that the God of love has forgiven us, and that there can be nothing which can justifiably stop us from forgiving others. The only person who can prevent your loving and forgiving others, God’s way, is YOU.
Many want to forgive, but feel silly doing so. They feel that what was done, or said, against them deserves at least some retribution. They take the utterly stupid, infantile, attitude of the world, ‘God forgives, I don’t’, and think that to forgive is foolish, but to not forgive and never forget is, somehow, the right way to live! The natural man cannot understand true love and forgiveness, and so counts them as foolishness. To truly love and forgive is to live on another plane of existence, another dimension of reality which the world knows nothing of. There is no legitimate reason that can stop any Christian from participating in the act of forgiveness. Being forgiven by our fellow man is a great blessing, but to forgive others is an even greater blessing.
People sometimes excuse their unforgiveness because of a person’s not having asked for forgiveness, or not admitting their sin, etc. They believe this exempts them from having to forgive. This should in no way hinder the Christian from forgiving as he has been forgiven. Some actually believe that a Christian is under no obligation to forgive, if the offender has not repented and asked to be forgiven. I dare say that to love your neighbor as yourself by definition would include all your neighbors, which would also involve forgiving them their sins against you. How else could love be manifested in such a situation? Quite often the hardened heart of the sinner can be softened by the attitude of love and forgiveness displayed by the one who has been sinned against. The true Christian does not look for excuses, or reasons which can be used to exempt one from the need to forgive, for the true Christian actually WANTS TO FORGIVE. The Christian strives to overcome every hurdle placed before him in order to forgive as he has been forgiven. The true Christian wants only to love and forgive, and the true Christian allows nothing to hinder their love, or desire to forgive anyone.
The question you need to ask yourself, concerning a person who has sinned against you, is, ‘Has that person done anything to me which is unforgiveable?’ People are often quite taken aback when confronted by such a question, for they are made to realize that their problem is not so much their inability to forgive, but their unwillingness to forgive. Nothing is unforgiveable, and no one is beyond our loving and forgiving freely and fully from the heart. So often people have been deceived by their deceitful and wicked hearts into mistaking unwillingness to forgive for an inability to forgive. Unwillingness to forgive often uses past hurt, as well as inner hatred and resentment, to disguise itself as inability to forgive. People who continually lean on past hurt committed against them to excuse their ‘inability’ to forgive, are simply hiding the fact that they just do not want to forgive God’s way, while simultaneously having the temerity to bathe in the beauty and warmth of God’s forgiveness toward them! Unforgiveness is placing oneself before God. It is to place one’s own will in place of God’s will for one’s life. There is no sin committed against us, whatsoever, that cannot be forgiven by the love and forgiveness instilled in us by God.
How much do you love God? Do you love God enough to forgive your worst enemy? Do you love God enough to forgive those who have deeply hurt you to the point you feel you have been emotionally damaged? Do you love God enough to forgive those who have emotionally harmed those you love? One lady has said: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Sadly, many live their lives according to the negative feelings they have allowed a relationship to leave them with. Many actually cling to all that negativity, and act like victims for the rest of their lives! CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE, and you will never again want to cling to those feelings, nor will your life continue to be obstructed by them. What God wants in His people is for love and forgiveness to reign supreme in their hearts and lives. That their love and forgiveness go far beyond just being pretty little words, and nice things to say, but become what they actually, genuinely, willingly practice in their lives, to the glory of God. The important thing in all this is how does God make you feel? Does God make you feel like hating, and not forgiving those who have sinned against you? Or does God’s amazing, incredible, unfathomable love and forgiveness of you inspire you to love and forgive others as God has forgiven you?
Do you love God enough to fully renew a relationship with one who has repented of what they’ve said, or how they have mistreated you in the past? Unforgiveness, or unwillingness to forgive, is a far greater sin than any sin which one is unwilling to forgive. Amazingly, there are quite extraordinary stories of genuine forgiveness by those who do not even believe in God. Marriages restored with a love that has never been greater, family relationships re-established, fathers reunited with their children, children reunited with their mothers. Families and friendships restored, people enjoying the glory of what it is to forgive and love again who do not even know God, while many Christians selfishly sit nurturing past hurt, and cultivating bitterness and resentment.
HOW YOU WANT GOD TO FORGIVE YOU IS PRECISELY HOW GOD EXPECTS YOU TO FORGIVE OTHERS! To receive God’s forgiveness, and praise Him for it, and yet not forgive others as God has forgiven you, is to not walk in love. It is to not walk with God. Your Bible studies may be going along fine, your prayer times may well be rich and praise-filled, but what does it all really mean when you are not fully walking in love and forgiveness toward others. Primarily, forgiveness has to do with the will rather than emotions, and an unwillingness to forgive is willingly allowing sin to block the walkway of love. It is to give place to Satan, and those things which come from your sinful nature, and not the new man created in Christ. Unforgiveness can only come from a person’s own sinfulness. No one who has ever sinned against you can be blamed for your unforgiveness toward them.
No one can force you to not forgive! Forgiveness and unwillingness to forgive are exercised freely by each of us. We are solely to blame for any unforgiveness residing in our hearts. We are the guilty ones when we do not exercise Godly love and forgiveness toward others. Complaining to God about the sins of another against you, and blatantly displaying an unremitting attitude of unforgiveness toward them, is by far the greater sin. God’s attention is not so much drawn to the sin, or person, you are complaining about, but upon you and your sin of unforgiveness. Most often the problem is not sin committed, but a person’s unforgiveness, as well as the reason which lies at the heart of their unforgiveness, toward it.
Unforgiveness is one of the grosser sins a Christian can commit. It is perhaps the most audacious of all sins, for whilst gladly receiving God’s forgiveness one cruelly refuses to forgive one’s fellow man. What’s worse, so many Christians fail miserably to ensure they have forgiven all who have sinned against them. They have failed to seize the opportunity to do what God has done: FORGIVE WITHOUT CONDITION, AND WITHOUT FAIL. They see sin as an excuse for them to sin in return, rather than as a golden opportunity to exercise the blessing of Godly forgiveness. So many have, in ways of which they are unaware, adversely affected their own lives, and the lives of others, by reacting in like manner to sin committed against them rather than according to God’s forgiveness of them. If you have not forgiven fully and freely from your heart, you are in contradiction to all you allegedly stand for. Moreover, do not think for one moment you who resist forgiving, that your non-Christian friends and family members are not aware of your unforgiveness and hypocrisy.
Unforgiveness is an unwillingness to let go of the pain you pridefully feel you are entitled to, and which you are using to justify your unforgiveness. Unforgiveness often comes from “an inordinately high opinion of one’s own dignity, or importance”. Hatred fuels unforgiveness while love—the conscious decision to follow in God’s footsteps and forgive—exhausts all hatred and bitterness, and thus dispenses with all unforgiveness. The Christian is obligated to forgive. Just as there can be no such thing as a Christian who does not believe the Gospel, no Christian has any right to not forgive. There is no alternative to forgiveness for the Christian. Forgiveness is not optional! Nor does a Christian have any right to pick and choose whom they will forgive, and how much they are willing to forgive. Forgiveness is an essential part of being a Christian, and one should always be as ready and willing to forgive as one is to take their next breath.
Contrary to how most people view it, forgiving is not excusing. “Forgiveness is the opposite of excusing. It reaches beyond excusing.” Forgiveness does not in any way minimize the sin committed, nor does it offer excuses for the one who has sinned. WHILST THE SIN MAY BE INEXCUSABLE, IT CAN NEVER BE UNFORGIVEABLE. True forgiveness is choosing not to retaliate in any way, shape or form against the one that has sinned against you. True forgiveness is to make a conscious, resolute decision to have nothing more to do with any form of resentment, or bitterness, PUBLICALLY, OR PRIVATELY, toward anyone, and to love them AS IF THEY HAD NEVER SINNED AGAINST YOU.
It is not true Godly forgiveness if you forgive publically, but not when you are alone, or in the privacy of your own mind. To forgive publically, and yet harbor resentment, and bitterness against the one who has sinned against you, to rail against them in your heart, constantly reliving their sin, or sins against you, in some vain, sinful, attempt to condone your continued private anger against them, is to be the lowest form of hypocrite. Such a person cannot possibly be serious about living the Christian life. Forgiveness is love in action. Forgiveness is for those who seriously desire to walk as Christ walked. Forgiveness is one of the main fruits of being filled with the joy of the Lord. No person filled with the joy of the Lord can possibly even entertain the notion of not forgiving as they have been forgiven. Forgiveness is on the side of the one being forgiven, and will not hear of anything said, or done, against them. True forgiveness sincerely prays for the one forgiven, and never allows the forgiver to return to a state of unforgiveness in mind, deed or word.
True forgiveness cannot do without conscious prayer for the one you are ‘finding it difficult’ to, or are unwilling, to forgive. Those who claim they want to fully forgive, but are finding it impossible to, are invariably waiting upon feelings which they know will never return. Forgiveness is not about faking how you feel toward someone who has hurt you, but is a conscious, purposed, decision to never again act sinfully toward that person in word, deed or even thought. True forgiveness is an outward display of what is occurring inside you, it is a manifestation of the love of God in you, and of your determination to not live according to how others have treated you, but to live according to how God has loved and forgiven you.
To forgive is doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. Forgiveness is easy for those whose lives have been literally transformed by, and are based on the principle of, unconditional love. Forgiveness is living according to how, and how much, you love God, and not in accord with how people have hated, or mistreated, you. What many people who have not truly forgiven, and yet think they are quite loving, kind and forgiving people, fail to realize is that their love, kindness and forgiveness is only a cheap imitation of the real thing. Their forgiveness, their love, is according to their standard, and not God’s Standard. Many ‘forgive’ according to their standard rather than God’s way. Just how determined you are to become more and more like Christ every day of your life, is seen in your refusal to allow the sins of anyone to put you off your course.
Forgiveness is not the pardoning of sin, yet banishing the one you have ‘forgiven’ from your life. To forgive, but not forget is the world’s way, not God’s way. There can be no room for retaliation if one is forgiving. Unforgiveness because of past hurt is what perpetuates, and quite often, exaggerates and prolongs the pain. And pain felt inspires an increased bitterness, and resentment, which fuels an unwillingness to forgive. It is a vicious circle which has no end unless you choose to break it by insisting that you love and forgive as you are loved and forgiven by the Holy God. Unforgiveness can only lead to self-destruction. The Christian is to live his life according to the Word of God, and not according to the words, or deeds, of men. Forgiveness is crucial to the Christian life. Forgiveness is a far greater blessing for the one forgiving than the one being forgiven. Let go of hatred and pain, choose not to act in accordance with it, but rebel against it, and let love and forgiveness have their way in you. SUBMIT YOURSELVES TO GOD, AND UNFORGIVENESS, BITTERNESS, AND THE DEVIL WILL ALL FLEE FROM YOU. There is no greater experience in life than to love and forgive as God loves and has forgiven His people.
When you are reminded of how badly one has hurt you in the past, always meditate upon God, and how He has forgiven all your sins, and how Christ has nailed them all to His cross, and do not forget to remind yourself that among those sins for which Christ died are the very sins you have not forgiven your Christian brother or sister. See others through the perspective of how greatly God loves you and has forgiven you, and you will find yourself eager to forgive and love as you have been forgiven, and are loved by God. Refuse to allow yourself to live and act as the world does, and begin to really walk as a child of light. Phone that person right now, and tell them you forgive them, and invite them over. Pray before, pray during and pray after their visit, and you will feel, and see things, differently.
To be a Christian is to go beyond how those of the world live, and live as a true child of God. Go beyond the realm of the flesh, and seek to live a true spiritual life. Walk with God, and you will find it impossible not to forgive. No one loses by forgiving others. Letting go of past hurt, and never again even mentioning it can only bring peace in your life, and an atmosphere of love toward all those around you. To love and forgive is perhaps the greatest way we can personally manifest the Beauty that is Almighty God. Sadly, there are Christians who will never know the joy and happiness their lives would have been filled with, which they have missed out on because of an unwillingness to forgive others God’s way.
To love and forgive others as God loves and has forgiven you is the flip side to God’s love and forgiveness toward you. With forgiveness comes a mandate to forgive. Forgiveness is freedom, freedom to love and freedom from dangerous, and damaging feelings of bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness is to walk in love, and in agreement with God. To accept forgiveness from God is to silently agree to forgive others as you have been forgiven. To walk in His love and in His forgiveness is to be a blessing toward all others, but most of all it will be a blessing to you. Nothing we do can bring us closer to God than to walk in obedience by loving and forgiving others, especially the brethren.
You can spin it any way you like, but all unforgiveness is the embodiment of hatred. Unforgiveness and hatred belong to the same category, for they inspire each other. Love does not promote unforgiveness, neither does hatred promote forgiveness. “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God Whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (1 Jn. 4:20,21). To truly be loved is to truly be forgiven. Likewise, to truly love is to truly forgive. It is to be a true ambassador of Christ, which not only involves the preaching of His Gospel, but to also manifest His love in you toward others, by loving and forgiving all.
TO WALK IN GOD’S LOVE IS TO FORGIVE OTHERS GOD’S WAY. As one man puts it, “If God held back His forgiveness, where would we be?” Do not deceive yourselves by settling for any other kind of forgiveness than a true, honest UNCONDITIONAL forgiveness. FORGIVE OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE GOD FORGIVE YOU. The love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts. The first fruit of that love is forgiveness, and the first fruit of forgiveness is freedom, and with freedom comes peace. The peace of God reigns in the hearts and minds of those who walk in His love and forgiveness. Partial forgiveness, or a forgiveness with boundaries and limits is not without its consequences, it is NOT God’s forgiveness. WE ARE TO FORGIVE AS WE ARE FORGIVEN: FULLY, FREELY, UNCONDITIONALLY AND MOST WILLINGLY.
Love and forgiveness is no respecter of persons. They do not discriminate. It does not pick and choose. Love loves all, and expects no reward. Forgiveness forgives all, and expects no applause. Godly love and forgiveness is something which this world knows nothing about. True love and genuine forgiveness bring blessings and freedom from this world’s ways and mindset. Walk in God’s love, practice Godly forgiveness, and you will be filled with great peace, freedom of conscience and freedom in life. TO WALK AS A TRUE LOVING AND FORGIVING CHRISTIAN IS THE ONLY WAY LIFE CAN REALLY BE LIVED TO THE FULL. Moreover, you will be showing others what it is to be a true Christian, and what God’s love and forgiveness are all about.
The following beautiful quote by American author, Mark Twain, captures the very essence of what true forgiveness is all about, “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it”.
Glorify God: love and forgive your enemies, love and forgive your brethren and family members.
LOVE AS GOD LOVES YOU. FORGIVE AS GOD HAS FORGIVEN YOU.