LOVE AND FORGIVENESS (PART 12)
Contrary to how most people view it, forgiving is not excusing. “Forgiveness is the opposite of excusing. It reaches beyond excusing.” “Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you...” Forgiving does not make up excuses for the sinner, but acknowledges that sin has been committed and chooses to not act against the person who committed the offense in any untoward way, whether in thought, word or action. God did not make excuses for His people’s sins, but sent His own Son, Jesus, to the cross in order to pay the penalty His people’s sins rightly deserved. God took it upon Himself to suffer the penalty His people had incurred. “Forgiveness is something entirely different than having an excuse. Forgiveness says that someone did do something wrong. Someone did something wrong without a legitimate excuse, and they fully deserve the consequences that may come.” Forgiveness acknowledges the sin, but never seeks retribution against the person who committed it, only reconciliation. “…forgiveness is willing to release one from the consequences, not on the basis of excuses from the offender, but on the basis of mercy from the offended.” Forgiveness cannot happen without you. “We cannot blame our predispositions, people around us, our circumstances, or our culture for what we do. God holds us personally responsible for what we have done, and rightly so. So when we go to God with our sin, we cannot make excuses. Excuses seek to keep us in control; we try to control God’s response by showing why He is obligated to absolve us based on our excuses. But no excuse will absolve us of what we have done. The only thing we can seek is forgiveness. That forgiveness will not be based on the strength of our excuses, but on the character and mercy of God.” One man has raised a very interesting point: “I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality (unless I watch myself very carefully) asking Him to do something quite different. I am asking him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says, ‘Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology; I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before’. But excusing says, ‘I see that you couldn’t help it or didn’t mean it; you weren’t really to blame’. If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive. In that sense forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites. Of course, in dozens of cases, either between God and man, or between one man and another, there may be a mixture of the two. Part of what at first seemed to be sins turns out to be really nobody’s fault and is excused; the bit that is left over is forgiven. If you had a perfect excuse, you would not need forgiveness; if the whole of your actions needs forgiveness, then there was no excuse for it. But the trouble is that what we call ‘asking God’s forgiveness’ very often really consists in asking God to accept our excuses. What leads us into this mistake is the fact that there usually is some amount of excuse, some ‘extenuating circumstances’. We are so very anxious to point these things out to God (and to ourselves) that we are apt to forget the really important thing; that is, the bit left over, the bit which excuses don’t cover, the bit which is inexcusable but not, thank God, unforgivable.”
There is never any valid reason for unforgiveness, only self-serving excuses. No excuse can possibly exempt you from forgiving your fellow man. Forgiveness is not excusing the sin that was done, but a refusal to in any way punish the person who committed it. Forgiveness, gained or given, is a free gift which comes by grace. It is never deserved, but always graciously and mercifully given. 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 acknowledging the sin, but choosing not to retaliate in any way, shape or form against the one that has sinned against you. Forgiveness motivated by the love of God, is a resolute determination to refuse to think, speak or act in any negative way against the sinner, but to always and only act, think and speak toward the sinner as if they had never committed any sin against you. This is love in action. This is the reality of what genuine forgiveness is, and thus it cannot be anything else. Anything which comes short of this is not the forgiveness with which God has forgiven His people, and subsequently is most assuredly not the kind of ‘forgiveness’ which should be employed by anyone calling themselves Christian. False forgiveness is a deceiver and a destroyer. It does not give, but only takes and is the only thing which stands in the way of peace and love. If there is no corresponding action to your claim of forgiveness then you have not only deceived yourself, but also the one who sinned against you. Many, who are so filled with blood-boiling hatred and resentment cannot even bring themselves to say the words, ‘I forgive you’, not even if they acknowledge they have not said those words to you. Some people are so bitter inside that they know if they do say, ‘I forgive you’ there will be nothing to stand in the way of the relationship being restored to its rightful place. Instead, such people act lovingly and forgivingly but only up to a certain point, a point they have made a bond with themselves never to cross. That, my friends, is not forgiveness, it is self love. It is a fear which expresses itself in unforgiveness and bitterness. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:18,19). The people who make deals with themselves to not ever reunite with that friend, family member or spouse, hide their unforgiveness behind the lie they have deceived themselves into believing that they are ‘protecting’ themselves because of what has already occurred so that it will never happen to them again. Many such people are doing themselves out of what could have been if they had only chosen to love and forgive and work at the relationship instead of abandoning it. The funny thing about life is we only know what has happened, but never what will happen. Life is filled with surprises, and we constantly encounter that which we did not expect. Those who fear the future because of what has happened in the past close the door on what could have been, based on what has been. Sometimes we cheat ourselves by thinking ourselves so wise when we try to predict what will happen based on what has happened. As any gambler will tell you, the reality of the situation is that the past is not always a reliable indicator of what will happen in the future.
Christians are taught to love themselves, not to be in love with themselves. Sometimes people are so in love with themselves they just do not know anything which is why they are in love with themselves in the first place. Unforgiveness is so deceitful that it presents itself to you as an indispensable and genuinely legitimate form of self-preservation, when in reality it is the very thing that is eating away at you. Genuine love for the true and only God is translated into love for others, especially your brethren. Anytime you fall short of full forgiveness, the only type of forgiveness God forgives with, you have simply failed to forgive, and I would strongly advise you not to pray the words from the Lord’s Prayer, “…forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matt. 6:12). If you cannot honestly say the following words from Luke 11, if you know that unforgiveness does dwell in your heart for anyone, then I advise you to not even dare verbalize the following words from Scripture: “…forgive us our sins, for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us…” (Lk. 11:4). You can deceive others, you can even deceive yourself, but you can never deceive God. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). If you have sown unforgiveness in your heart unforgiveness is what you will receive. “…he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy…” (Jas. 2:13 cf. Matt. 6:15; 18:35; Col. 3:13). “…For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Lk. 6:38). “…they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind…” (Hos. 8:7).
True forgiveness is about making a conscious, resolute decision to have nothing whatsoever 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. Importantly, true forgiveness occupies and rules the private thought life of the one forgiving, and not just their outward actions and words. Negative thoughts about the person who has sinned against you must immediately be shut down and never entertained. You must be fully committed to forgiveness, for anything less than a faithful, dedicated and responsible devotion to God expressed in your forgiveness of others, is not forgiveness at all. It is not loving God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. Every thought in your mind must be consumed with love for your neighbor if you expect to properly and honestly forgive your neighbor their sins as God has forgiven you. If you feel negative thoughts about the person rising up in you, then pray immediately for that person, and for God to cause you to take captive every thought that is contrary to love and forgiveness. You must fight unforgiveness with love. Christians need to discern and recognize any unforgiveness in their hearts and ask God to forgive them their unforgiveness and cause them to fully and lovingly forgive as they are forgiven by Him. This is a daily battle, and battles are never won unless you fight back! Defeat is never acceptable! Victory is never given, only fought for and won. You cannot forgive without God—you will not forgive without God. Identifying your enemy is the first step in defeating your enemy. All unforgiveness is the enemy of every Christian. To walk in love is to forgive your neighbor their every sin against you. To walk in forgiveness is to actively love your neighbor as yourself, something which loving God with all your being simply cannot do without. To not forgive your neighbor, let alone your brethren, is to not love God. It is not true Godly forgiveness if you forgive publically, but not when you are alone, or in the privacy of your own mind. Hypocrisy will never deliver you the freedom to forgive. A superficial Christianity will do you absolutely no good.
To forgive publically, and yet harbor a secret resentment and bitterness against the one who has sinned against you, to murmur and rail against them in your heart, constantly reliving their sin, or sins against you, and reviewing their injustice against you by telling others or simply just reminding yourself of their sin, in some vain, sinful, attempt to condone your continued private war against them, is to be the lowest form of hypocrite. Such a person cannot possibly be serious about living the Christian life. Forgiveness is constant and perpetual love in action. We must see to it that we love and forgive one and all as we are loved and forgiven. We must keep a close watch on our hearts and make sure we are diligent in our war against anything and everything that would oppose our loving and forgiving our neighbour and brethren. Love and forgiveness never sleep. True forgiveness does not lapse into hate, for it is a primary product of love. The road of love always leads to forgiveness. All other roads will lead you away from forgiveness. If you do not walk in love you will never find forgiveness in your heart. Nothing must be allowed to interfere or block the very notion of forgiveness in the believer at any time. Focusing on the person’s sin rather than on forgiving the person will never lead you to a Godly life. Always remember God’s love and forgiveness of you, dear Christian, and how being loved and forgiven by God carries with it an expectancy, nay a command, to love and forgive others no differently to how you are loved and forgiven by God. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if ANY man have a quarrel against ANY: even AS CHRIST FORGAVE YOU, SO ALSO DO YE. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Col. 3:12-15). What a passage of Scripture! You can never have too much love, you can never have too much mercy, you can never have too much forgiveness in your heart. Look at the things that lead to forgiveness, “bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing…love” Only through these things will the peace of God rule in your heart. Busy yourself, dear Christian, in these virtues and forgiveness will come easy. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the sins of others. Do not allow their sin to lead you into the sin of unforgiveness. Do not feed your pride, but starve it through love and forgiveness of others. There is only one Biblical standard of forgiveness. Forgive as Christ has forgiven you! That is the standard, that is the level of forgiveness we must all act in accord with. Those who say they can’t, don’t really want to. You will always find such people looking back on the sin committed against them instead of looking to God Who has forgiven them and wants them to forgive others in the same way.
Forgiveness is for those who seriously desire to walk as Christ walked. You cannot become more and more like Jesus if you refuse to forgive your neighbor, your family relative, or your brethren as Christ has forgiven you. Those who do not forgive do not love. Whatever is hindering you from forgiving all others their every sin against you is not from God, but originates from your desperately wicked and deceptive heart. That which hinders from proper forgiveness is your enemy, not the person who has sinned against you, for they are merely the innocent victims of your unforgiveness. I say innocent because unforgiveness is never justifiable, and, therefore, never a legitimate response to sin. No person, no matter who they are, or what they have done, deserves to be unforgiven by a Christian. Unforgiveness is never called for in those who have been forgiven by God. When someone sins against you, the answer is as simple as A, B, C: LOVE THEM BY FORIGIVING THEM and bring glory to God’s Holy name. That should be our whole concern when someone sins against us, not how to retaliate, but to love and forgive thus bringing glory to God. The whole Christian life is about serving God through obedience, thus bringing glory to His Wonderful Name. The Christian life does not involve casting adrift those who have sinned against us, but drawing them nearer to you through love and forgiveness. Loving others and forgiving them brings glory to God. This is drawing near to God. Drawing near to God is loving God by obeying God. “If ye love Me, keep My commandments” (Jn . 14:15). Love God and keep His commandments by loving Him with your life and your neighbour as yourself. 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. The true Christian wants nothing to do with any form of unforgiveness. Why would you not want to give to others what God has given to you? True Christians seize the opportunity to forgive, they long to forgive and they do forgive everyone’s every sin against them. Forgiveness is always on the side of the one being forgiven, and will not hear of anything said, or done, against them. Love protects us, it shields us from a spirit of unforgiveness, and as long as we are walking in love we will always forgive. THE ROOT CAUSE OF UNFORGIVENESS IS AN UNLOVING ATTITUDE. True love sincerely prays for the one forgiven, and never allows the forgiver to lapse back to a state of unforgiveness in mind, deed, word or attitude. If you are not forgiving you are not loving. Never allow yourself to fall for the lie that you cannot forgive. Never give up on forgiveness.
True forgiveness cannot do without conscious prayer for the one you are ‘finding it difficult’ to, or are unwilling, to forgive. Genuine love will lead you to pray. Those who claim they want to fully forgive, but are finding it ‘impossible to’, are invariably waiting upon feelings which they know, deep down, may never return, or which they secretly do not want to return. The reality of the situation is that your emotions are waiting upon you to make a quality decision to forgive. There are so many excuses for unforgiveness which we hide behind, but they are all transparent and without substance. Forgiveness is not about faking how you feel toward someone who has hurt you, but is a conscious, purposeful, decision to not avenge yourself against that person in any way, and to never act sinfully toward them in word, deed or even in thought. True forgiveness is having a holy, caring and compassionate attitude toward the person who has sinned against you, especially if they are your Christian brother or sister. 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 loves and has forgiven you. Those who will not forgive, live their lives in the shadow of someone else’s sin. MOVE! When you are living a life of unforgiveness, even if that unforgiveness is directed at one person, the shadow of their sin will follow you around like your own shadow until you forgive. For the unforgiver, “There are no tomorrows, only yesterday’s pain”. A complete love for the only true God and your neighbour is what being a Christian is all about. A lawyer once posed the following question to the Lord Jesus: “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:36-40). The apostle Paul wrote: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:14-16). To walk in the Spirit is to obey God, indeed, it is to love one’s neighbor as oneself. “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22,23). “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10).
To forgive is doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. To forgive is doing unto others what God has done to you and for you. Forgiveness is easy for those whose lives have been literally transformed by, and are based on the principle of, unconditional love. Forgiveness comes naturally when you really love someone. There is no such thing as really loving someone, but not being able to forgive them. Love and forgiveness are two sides of the same coin. Forgiveness is living according to how, and how much, God loves and has forgiven you, and not in accord with how people have hated, or mistreated, you. Christians love and forgive, primarily, because they are loved and forgiven by God. 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. Moreover, they judge themselves according to how they are towards the people they do love and have forgiven while conveniently ignoring those they refuse to love and probably will never forgive. God’s Standard of forgiveness is the benchmark. The forgiveness of our fellow man should never be allowed to fall below the Standard which God has set, and accordingly dealt with us. Those who have no intention to forgive as they have been forgiven by God have a ‘forgiveness’ and ‘love’ that are full of conditions and restrictions that prevent godly forgiveness and godly love reigning supreme in their hearts. Counterfeit love and forgiveness are welcomed only in the hearts of counterfeit Christians. Many ‘forgive’ according to their standard rather than God’s way. Just how determined you are to genuinely become more and more like Christ every day of your life, is clearly evident in a resolute refusal to allow the sins of anyone to put you off your course.
“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?” (1 Jn. 4:20). How can any person say they love God and yet hate their brother through the sin of unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is simply the manifestation and perpetuator of hate, and it is never uglier than when permitted to reside in the heart of a Christian. Earlier in his Letter, John says: “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes” (1 Jn. 2:9-11). The Christian who does not forgive his brother hates his brother. The Christian who does not forgive God’s way hates his brother. The sin of unforgiveness cannot survive without hatred, bitterness and a lustful appetite for revenge. You can say you are in the light, but if you hate your brother through unforgiveness you are currently in darkness, and that darkness has blinded your eyes. Actions speak louder than mere words. Your actions, more than your words, will reveal what is really happening within you. Hatred comes out of darkness. Unforgiveness comes from darkness, and such darkness has blinded the eyes to the point where the unforgiver believes he is walking in light, believes he has forgiven, believes he does love his brother. When true love replaces hate all unforgiveness evaporates. “By expelling ill-will, pride, anger, immoderate selfishness, and all other evil passions, which are occasions of sin, love removes every stumbling-block lying in our way, and enables us to do our duty to our brethren in Christ, or to mankind in general, with ease and pleasure. ‘But he that hateth his brother’ — And he must hate if he does not love him; there is no medium; ‘is in darkness’ — In a state of spiritual blindness, of sin, perplexity, and entanglement. For his malevolence blinds his reason to such a degree that he does not see what is right, and it extinguishes every virtuous inclination which would lead him to practice what is right, and puts him wholly under the power of bad passions; so that, in this darkness, he is in danger not only of stumbling, but of destroying himself; not knowing whither he goeth — Whether to heaven or hell, or how near he is to destruction; while he that loves his brother has a free, disencumbered journey.”
"‘Seeing is an incentive to love’. If we do not love the brethren, the visible representatives of God, how can we love God, the invisible One, whose children they are? The true ideal of man, lost in Adam, is realized in Christ, in Whom God is revealed as He is, and man as he ought to be. Thus, by faith in Christ, we learn to love both the true God, and the true man, and so to love the brethren as bearing His image.” Fake forgiveness does not entail the pardoning of sin, but the banishment of the one you have ‘forgiven’ from your life. For instance, refusing to ever again live with a husband or wife, to work on and pray for your marriage, to seek wisdom, guidance and help from God and being a blessing to your spouse, but not retaliating against them in any other way is NOT Christian forgiveness. Dealing with a husband or wife in a friendly manner, always careful not to offend your spouse is not Biblical forgiveness. It’s just a way of protecting yourself from ever becoming involved with them again as you should. Biblical forgiveness is forgiving their sin, and then doing everything you can to restore and maintain a successful love-filled marriage. Anything less than this is unforgiveness in its bare naked form and it is no way to walk with God. If you want to forgive, you will forgive. How can you ever pray to God for forgiveness for what you have just done, and yet refuse to forgive another for what they have done to you? How can you ask God for forgiveness when you knowingly will not forgive another as God has forgiven you? How can you go on in your Christian walk and forgive one and all except the person you should be forgiving more than anyone else: your spouse! How can you ever pray for forgiveness from God knowing you have permitted unforgiveness to take up permanent residence in your heart? Ask God to forgive you your unforgiveness and then show that the sentiment behind your prayer is genuine by going to the one you have not forgiven, and forgive them, remembering to ask them to please forgive you your, heretofore, unforgiveness of them. Forgiveness can only be forgiveness if it is full and free. Any conditions added to it immediately cancels it out as real forgiveness just as work cancels out grace. ‘I forgive you, but…’ is NOT Christian forgiveness. It is NOT the way God forgives His people and it is NOT the way He expects them to forgive each other. There should be no conditions added to the way God expects His people to forgive one another. Nothing short of full reconciliation will do, because anything less than full reconciliation evidences a forgiveness that is not full and free, not godly forgiveness. Add a ‘but’ to your ‘forgiveness’ and you have just cancelled out your forgiveness. If you do not forgive others as God has forgiven you, then what you have is no forgiveness at all. You are playing at forgiveness, you are playing at being a Christian, and I tremble in fear for you. Any excuse for not forgiving is simply a lame and miserable attempt to defend your unforgiveness, and insisting on living life YOUR way!
God will always be pointing you back to the one you refuse to forgive, especially if they are both a Christian and your husband, wife, physical or spiritual family member. Not incidentally, to forgive, but not forget is the world’s way, not God’s way. Now, of course, we are to learn as we live. No matter what the sin we are to forgive it, for this is how God forgives us, however, if, for example, you are a woman whose husband has physically beaten you and verbally abused you in the foulest of ways, and has not shown the slightest hint of remorse or repentance, of ever ceasing his horrid ways, then surely that woman is not expected to return to her husband and expose herself to more violence, not because of any unforgiveness on her part, but because of a dangerous and unrepentant husband. In such cases she may surely separate, but not remarry (see 1 Cor. 7:10,11). Conversely, however, if the husband has repented and consistently shown a true change in his attitude, etc., particularly over a long period of time, then there is no Biblical support for a wife continuing her separation from her husband especially if he is a Christian man. If any woman, or man, thinks they are biblically justified in leaving their spouse, who has repented and seeks to reunite with them, and remaining permanently separated from them, then they are advocating that the sin of unforgiveness—the only thing that can keep a relationship from full restoration—is the loving thing to do. The same is true for husbands who have suffered all kinds of psychological manipulation and been lied to by a treacherous wife. If the wife is remorseful, has repented and changed her ways then there is nothing which should keep the man away from her especially if she is a Christian. Forgiveness always unites—only unforgiveness causes and maintains separation. Be not deceived. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS BIBLICAL FORGIVENESS WITHOUT FULL RECONCILIATION. If there is no restoration and reconciliation there is no forgiveness. The only thing keeping a married couple apart is unforgiveness, or unrepentance. The only thing that supports your separation is your unwillingness to be with that person ever again, and the only thing which supports your unwillingness is your unforgiveness of them. When you selfishly maintain and entertain the memory of other’s sins against you, it comes as no surprise to hear that you have great difficulty in loving and forgiving that person. LET GO AND LOVE.
If those who prefer to see others through the eyes of justice and themselves through the eyes of God’s mercy would only correct their visual impairment with love, they would see the situation clearly. The situation, the reality, is that we all need forgiveness, and if we need it, we should give it just as readily as we are to receive it. “Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?” (Matt. 18:33). “The comparison of the two acts, the implied assumption that the pity of the one act would be after the pattern of the other, was, we may believe, designed to lead the disciples to the true meaning of the prayer they had been taught to use, ‘…forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors’ (Matt. 6:12).” To forgive according to your rules is not forgiving God’s way. The template to forgiveness is how God has forgiven His people: He has taken their sins and cast them behind Him. He no longer sees them, or deals with His people, according to their sin. God no longer condemns them, He loves them. That is what forgiveness is: NO CONDEMNATION, ONLY LOVE. The only way to truly forgive is to forgive God’s way. Anything short of this is not forgiveness. There can be no room for retaliation if one is truly forgiving. The sign of true forgiveness is that it always restores, never separates. Love and forgiveness stand for restoration not separation. Love and forgiveness paves the way for peace and reconciliation. Love for God is the bond that holds forgiveness together. True forgiveness never leaves anyone behind. True forgiveness never leaves anyone worse off than they were before they sinned. If you have broken off a relationship, or reduced a person’s role in your life you are nothing but a hypocrite if you maintain the lie that you have biblically forgiven them. How would you like God to forgive you the way you have forgiven them? Do you believe God forgives, but then leaves, or even forsakes His people? Of course you don’t. Then why allow yourself to ‘forgive’ in such a way that breaks off a relationship instead of healing the relationship? True forgiveness never supports separation, or disunity. Unforgiveness is hatred. HATE BREAKS – FORGIVENESS FIXES. Unforgiveness, fuelled and excused by and because of past hurt, is what perpetuates, and quite often, given time, exaggerates and prolongs the pain. And pain felt inspires an increased bitterness, and resentment, which fuels an ever-increasing unwillingness to forgive. Unforgiveness never helps anyone. It deceives the unforgiver and seeks to harm the unforgiven one. All unforgiveness is resentment. Dear Christian, your unforgiveness is not only hurting the one you refuse to forgive, but it is also hurting you. Your unforgiveness grieves the Holy Spirit and interrupts your relationship with God. The repentant ones who sit in silence without a negative word of protest at being treated unforgivingly suffer greatly. Through lonely, silent tears which have accumulated behind their eyes, they pray for forgiveness, for a compassionate heart in the one who will not forgive them God’s way, but they resist all temptation to retaliate in any way or deem anyone’s unforgiveness toward them as a license to react in like manner. To really love the only true God is to love His people, and also all His creation. Real love loves its neighbor as itself, and real forgiveness always forgives as it is forgiven. Everything else, every version and interpretation of what love and forgiveness are, is nothing but a counterfeit. A Christian’s love and forgiveness toward others should be no different to God’s love and forgiveness toward them.
Allowing hurt and pain to dictate how you live your life will always lead to an ultimate self-destruction. It is a vicious circle which has no end unless you choose to break it by insisting you actually live the Christian life God’s way by loving and forgiving as you are loved and forgiven by the Holy God. Loving and forgiving others as God has loved and forgiven you is your reasonable service to God. Love and forgiveness is expected of you who are forgiven by God. The Christian is born again into this life of love and forgiveness. The Christian is made to love by the One Who loved him first. There is no life but love for the believer. Unforgiveness can only lead to self-destruction. Unforgiveness is like an out of control wrecking ball swinging wildly and indiscriminately smashing anyone who gets in its way. The Christian is to live his life according to the Word of God, and not according to the sinful and inappropriate words, or deeds, of men. Love and forgiveness equal freedom, freedom from the dictates of hurt and pain caused by sin, and freedom from the sinful nonsense of revenge. Forgiveness is crucial to the Christian life, in fact the Christian life cannot be lived out if you have no intention of forgiving every single sin of every single person who has ever sinned against you. 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 with you. SUBMIT YOURSELVES TO GOD, AND UNFORGIVENESS, BITTERNESS, AND THE DEVIL WILL ALL FLEE FROM YOU. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you…” (Jas. 4:7,8). The opportunity to love and forgive others as you are loved and forgiven by God should be immediately grasped and acted upon by every believer. There is no greater experience in life than to love and forgive as God loves and has forgiven His people. Imagine being how God is, and doing what He does. We all gain an enormously practical and clearer perspective of God and who we are, when we love as we are loved, and forgive as we are forgiven. We show our love by our forgiveness of others. Likewise, we demonstrate a quite distinct lack of love by our unforgiveness of others. Learning about love and forgiveness is one thing, but putting them into practice is entering into quite another dimension of living. Reflect God’s love and forgiveness of you by loving and forgiving your fellow man. Worship God and praise His name by loving and forgiving your fellow man unconditionally.
God has forgiven His people their every sin, so what gives any one of them the right to refuse to forgive anyone their sins against them, especially a fellow Christian whom God has totally forgiven. Christians are to submit themselves “…one to another in the fear of God” (Eph. 5:21). 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 for. Moreover, Christ died and has paid the penalty for your sin of unforgiveness, so why do you persist in committing it! We all want our way, but there are some that want it more than others. We all have a naturally sinful bias toward ourselves and seek to impose our will over that of others. Sometimes, we even seek to impose our will over the will of God for our lives. Sometimes we try to get God to follow us rather than us following Him, and see God’s allowing this as confirmation that we are right in doing so, that God wants what we want. God’s will for His children is for them to love and forgive as He loves and has forgiven them. When we choose not to forgive as we are forgiven we are opposing the will of God and are found fighting against love. The bottom line, the sum total of all unforgiveness is that a person simply does not want to forgive God’s way and restore a friendship, family relationship or marriage, to its rightful place. All the excuses, all the ways Scripture has been twisted to help support one’s lifestyle of unforgiveness toward anyone all boils down to only one word: unforgiveness. Unforgiveness, when all the fat is trimmed off, etc., is what a person wants. Unforgiveness, pure and simple, is nothing else but a wicked unwillingness to forgive. Unforgiveness does not want to see others through the perspective of how greatly God loves you and has forgiven you. Often, the person who is unforgiving knows exactly what they should do, but they just do not want to do it. They do not want to meditate on God’s love and forgiveness of them, and of their need to love and forgive their neighbour, especially a Christian. They deny reality and live in a fantasy world where love is not essential and unforgiveness is inconsequential. If you think this is normal, if you think this is living in the real world, you’d better think again. Meditate on God, on His love and forgiveness of you, dear Christian, and you will find yourself eager to forgive and love as you have been forgiven, and are loved by God. There is no fear in love. Meditate on the only true God and you will find living in His world His way the only way to live life to the fullest. You do not lose anything by forgiving everything another has done against you.
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. Be compassionate, be merciful, and rise above your sinfulness and all the temptations and associated unbiblical reasoning. Rise above your sinfulness and that of others by loving God with your life and your neighbour as yourself. Be sympathetic and empathetic, compassionate and merciful and allow the Lord’s love in you and for you to motivate your attitude and power home your forgiveness toward others. Pray for the will of God to be fulfilled in your life, and then go and do what you know He has commanded you to do: Love God with all your being AND your neighbour as yourself. Those who love being loved and forgiven by God HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO RIGHT not to love and forgive their neighbour. ‘Cause me to forgive that person dear Lord; Cause me to love them and forgive them and restore a right relationship with them just as it was before I foolishly allowed their sin to stop my love for them, before I entered into the selfish, wicked sin of unforgiveness, before I began to live my way and not Your way.’ No matter how long you have lived with unforgiveness in your heart, NOW is the time to contact the one you have, heretofore, chosen not to forgive, and forgive them from your heart and restore a right and proper relationship with them. True love gives forgiveness its rightful place in your heart. Forgiveness is the mortal enemy of every sin committed against you. Forgiveness of others enhances your relationship with God and bonds you to the one who has hurt you and seeks for nothing but love to prevail between you. To be a Christian is to go beyond how those of the world live. To be a Christian is to live as a true child of God in thought, word and action. Go beyond the realm of the flesh, and seek to live a true spiritual life by obeying God, loving Him with all your being and your neighbor as yourself. Let the reality of real love and forgiveness take over your life. Worship God with your life not just with your words.
Walk with God, and you will find it impossible not to forgive. No one loses out by forgiving others. Letting go of past hurt, and never again making any mention of it, not even to yourself, can only bring peace to your life, and an atmosphere of love toward all those around you. Love because of God don’t hate because of men. Forgiveness of sin goes beyond letting go, it is getting hold of God’s love and being empowered by Him to forgive others. To obey God by loving and forgiving is perhaps the greatest way we can personally manifest the Beauty that is Almighty God in our lives. 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 live your Christian life according to your rules and conditions is to be no different from those of the world. There is no such thing as a part-time Christian. You either love God with your whole life and your neighbour as yourself, or you do not. Your rules and conditions will always conform to your ego and pride which will always be contrary to the commands of God. Your rules and conditions which will invariably establish traditions that nullify the Word of God in your life, will always favor you, and not your fellow man the way God’s love and forgiveness do. Living according to your own rules makes you your own god. 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 responsibility, a mandate to forgive. Forgiveness is freedom, freedom to love and freedom from the dangerous, and damaging feelings of bitterness and resentment. Love slams the door on bitterness and resentment and opens the door to forgiveness and reconciliation. Love and forgiveness establish unity while dispensing with any and all discord. Love and forgiveness are the way of escape from every feeling that would encourage you to retaliate against those who have sinned against you. Bitterness, hatred, resentment etc., are like evil entities trying to break into your house, but can only cause as much destruction to your life as you will allow them. FIGHT BACK, CHRISTIAN! Love your enemies and forgive your brethren. Only then will you see how powerless bitterness and hatred really are in the face of doing things God’s way. Forgiveness is to walk in love, and in agreement with God. Don’t fight sin with sin. Don’t fight sin with unforgiveness, that only empowers sin to carry out its destruction of you from within. Fight sin with forgiveness and love. To receive forgiveness from God is to simultaneously agree to forgive others as you have been forgiven by Him. To walk in His love and in His forgiveness is to be a blessing toward all others, but most of all it will bring glory to God, and be a blessing to you. Nothing we do can bring us closer to God than to walk in obedience to Him by loving and forgiving others, especially the brethren.