LOVE AND FORGIVENESS - PART 2

To effectively 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 and convenient to love and forgive. As a Christian you cannot pick and choose whom you want to love and forgive, for we are to love and forgive everyone from enemies to friends, from family members to brethren. True forgiveness forgives the worst of sins not only the minor ones. There is nothing true forgiveness cannot forgive. There is nothing true forgiveness will not forgive. There is no one love cannot love. There is no one love will not love. A lack of forgiveness is never the real problem in those who do not forgive, but only the excuse, that which motivates their refusal to release the full force of love and forgiveness against every sin that has been committed against them. Ignoring, and avoiding, those we know we are not loving the way we should, as well as those we know we have not fully forgiven the way we have been forgiven, is, to say the least, a recipe for an extremely problematic spiritual life. A life in which love and forgiveness do not rule, is like a house with the stove in the bedroom, the bedroom furniture on the front porch and the toilet in the living room. It’s just plain wrong! It is a life ‘out of whack’ as they say. There should always be conflict and unrest in a Christian’s mind whenever we sense any unforgiveness seeking to take up residence therein. At the very least there should always be an uncomfortableness in a Christian whenever unforgiveness rears its ugly head. Unforgiveness should never rest easy in a believer’s heart. We should never break out the welcome mat for unforgiveness, we should never accommodate it. Unforgiveness will always leave whenever love is present. If no conflict exists in a Christian’s mind concerning any unforgiveness present, then the alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear. You may think you are enjoying a happy life, but deep down you know that one person whom you refuse to forgive, that one person whom you have shut out of your life will always be in the back of your mind until you have hardened your heart to the point you become blind to your own sin of unforgiveness. Dear Christian, you will never be free to love as you are loved, if you do not forgive as you are forgiven. Problems will occur in the believer’s life who does not love and forgive fully and freely. Do not forget, those of you who make it a point to love their enemies, to also love those who love you, and who love and forgive you despite your continued unforgiveness toward them. We should not and must not pick and choose whom we will love and forgive, and to what extent, on the basis of what suits us best. The only comfort zone for the Christian should be to love and forgive with absolutely no restriction. There should not be varying levels to our loving and forgiving others, for real love and true forgiveness recognize no boundaries. Real love forgives anything. We should not love and forgive anyone any differently to how we forgive anyone else. We should not love and forgive anyone any differently to how God has loved and forgiven us. A reluctant forgiveness is better than no forgiveness at all. When you walk a mile in the shoes of forgiveness any reluctance to do so will soon dissipate, and you will begin to experience the pure joy that comes with forgiveness.

 

If there are any conditions attached to your forgiveness, you have not forgiven as you are forgiven by God. Forgiveness is a gift, and true gifts are not conditional, but free. If that repentant person you claim to have forgiven is not back in your life being blessed by you, your forgiveness is a sham. Actions and consequences speak far louder than words. You have fooled yourself, but not the one you have not properly forgiven, and surely not God. We should not have to be talked into loving and forgiving anyone, and there should really be no need for such a book as this, for we should all have a deep hunger and overriding sense of priority to love and forgive all who have harmed us in any way. Forgiveness destroys sin. True forgiveness obliterates sin and its effects upon us, and frees us to love the sinner. A loving and forgiving heart is the sinner’s advocate, not his enemy. A loving and forgiving heart wants not to be messed up with anyone’s sin against it, and so sees to it that  every sin is dealt with by a tender loving and forgiving attitude. Forgiveness refuses to allow the sins of others to dictate how we should act toward them. The Christian’s life is run by God, it is in accord with God and His will for His people to love and forgive as they are loved and forgiven by Him. The Christian heart beats because it has God’s love running through it. Love is the life for the Christian. Love is the lifeblood of the Christian, it is “the indispensable factor or influence that gives” the Christian strength and vitality to carry out the will of God in forgiving one’s neighbour. Without love there is no Christianity. God is love and His people are to live lives of love and forgiveness. The Christian wants to love and forgive as he is loved and forgiven. There are no excuses, and certainly nothing in the Scriptures that will support anyone’s excuses—which are nothing but expressions of anger and bitterness which have, heretofore, not been properly, maturely and Biblically dealt with. To not love and forgive anyone and everyone 100% and still claim to be a Christian is hypocrisy at its worst. It is quite amazing how those who profess to be Christian, say they want no part of Satan, and yet they are too often willing participants in the sins of bitterness and unforgiveness.

 

The life of the Christian is to forgive not only those whom we like, but also those we may not like, particularly those who have grievously hurt us in the past, and who may still remain a source of great distress, or grief, in the present. The only way to rid oneself of such distress, or grief, is to choose to forgive from the heart. Forgiveness is the water of love which will extinguish the fire of sin and pain. Just as the house will burn down unless the flames are put out by water, so too, unforgiven sin will destroy the believer if it is not countered by love. Draw near to God by spending quality time in His Word and in prayer, tell God how you feel, pour out your feelings to Him and ask that He bless you with the will to love and forgive others. The only way to rid oneself of pain and grief is with unfettered love and forgiveness. Love and forgive even your brethren, for sometimes it is more difficult to forgive brethren and family members whom you must live with than enemies you know you will never see again. “Forgiveness, of course, is the virtue we most enjoy, and least employ, in our Christian experience. We all love to be forgiven—we expect it, and want it. But we find it a struggle to forgive; we resist it, and refuse oftentimes to do it. We are like the little boy who was saying his prayers. As he went down the list of his family, asking God to bless them, he omitted his brother's name. His mother said to him, ‘Why didn't you pray for Cliff?’ He said, ‘I'm not going to ask God to bless Cliff because he hit me’. And his mother said, ‘Don't you remember Jesus said to forgive your enemies?’ But the little boy said, ‘That's just the trouble. He's not my enemy; he's my brother!’” Let that sink deep into your soul, dear brethren. Anything less than unconditional forgiveness can only perpetuate your pain. Unconditional forgiveness sacrifices your pain to love. After all, Christ sacrificed Himself and endured the pain and shame of the cross to bring His people unconditional forgiveness. Whenever you fail to forgive, the problem is you, and never the person who has sinned against you. Someone says, ‘But I do want to forgive them, it’s just that their sin was so evil that makes it so difficult’. No, it’s your attitude to their sin that is making forgiveness seem impossible. Whenever you say you cannot forgive, you are saying there is a sin which love cannot conquer. Only unwillingness to forgive can prevent forgiveness. No sin, in and of itself, can prevent you from forgiving the person who committed it. Had you responded with love and forgiveness there would be no problem. Love and forgiveness are the advocates of the one who has sinned against you. Those who insist that the sin is the problem, fail to see that the sin committed against them would pose no problem for them if they had only forgiven it. Whenever we sin by failing to forgive WE are the guilty party, WE are to blame, WE are the problem and no one else. No matter what the sin is forgiveness should always be our attitude. No matter what the sin the Christian is to always fight against any feelings of bitterness, hatred, resentment and desire for revenge. Love will never act on those emotions, but will always oppose them. No sin of the individual can be blamed on the sins of another who has harmed us. You cannot blame someone else’s sin for your sin of unforgiveness. Scripture says: “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good” (Rom. 12:9); and, “…let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Tim. 2:19). Included in the iniquity every Christian should depart from is the iniquity of unforgiveness. Unforgiveness comes from within you not from without. No one can force you to not forgive. Our sin is our sin, and the Christian must face this fact by openly distributing the love and forgiveness God has for us toward those who have sinned against us.

 

“… the most common emotional and spiritual issue people deal with is forgiveness. It is common for a person to not even realize how the unwillingness to forgive has crippled them emotionally and spiritually.  Sometimes, the person will experience physical healing after they  forgive and let go of a long-held grudge, offense or sin against them. This should come as no surprise if you are studying your Bible carefully. Jesus spends a lot of time teaching about the importance and power of forgiveness. Jesus tells the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35, after Peter asks if we should forgive someone even up to seven times for sinning against us. Seven times seems like a lot to most Christians. God’s mercy for His people through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, for all their sins, should fill us with such joy and thankfulness that we can forgive anyone else any sin they commit against us. There is no room for offense in the Christian. None. God’s forgiveness of us is an example of the kind of mercy we are to show all other people, no matter how bad we think their sins are…most Christians know this is true, so we lie to ourselves. We pretend that the reason we can’t forgive someone is something else. We forgive them, we just choose to move to another church, so we don’t have to be around them.” We forgive them, but we choose to no longer have them in our lives so we don’t have to be around them. Forgiveness is indispensable to the one who chooses to live their life with love toward others. We deceive ourselves into believing our forgiveness is sincere, when our actions betray our true unwillingness to forgive. Over time, this unforgiveness leads us to wonder why we feel so tortured, just like in the parable in Matthew 18.  Then, we seek spiritual healing, and realize we have been lying to ourselves. The lies don’t free us from the torture that comes with holding grudges and offenses. 

 

“Sometimes the grudges and offenses grow out of terrible sins committed against us. When we are mentally, emotionally or physically abused this can be the case.” However, as impossible as it may seem at times, no sin and no one who has sinned against us is beyond forgiveness. The kingdom of forgiveness recognizes no borders or boundaries. “Just about any time you are thinking of leaving your church, a husband, wife or friend” you must remind yourself of your own sins against God, and how He has never left you or forsaken you, but has instead loved and forgiven you. God expects His people to be like Him. My friend, the Christian life is to be LIVED, not only agreed with in principle. The Christian life is about ACTION not inaction, it is about real love in action that actually makes a difference not only in your own life but in the lives of those who have sinned against you. Procrastination, a lazy, slothful, attitude is not compatible with the Christian life. When someone sins against you, “God is busy teaching you how to forgive and love your enemies. All too often, we are too busy lying to ourselves, running away from the discomfort of forgiveness and looking for an easy faith. Is there someone you are struggling to forgive? Do you lie to yourself to not have to forgive others? Forgiveness is of eternal importance to Jesus. It needs to be that important to you as well.” Jesus went to the cross and suffered a horrible, shameful death just so He could forgive all those whom the Father gave to Him. Why, in the face of such a Sacrifice will you not love your brethren? How many times you should forgive is not the issue. If there is a need for forgiveness, then you should forgive. The Christian is always obligated to forgive. God has forgiven you, but you ‘cannot’ forgive your fellow man his sins against you? You ‘cannot’ forgive your brother or sister in Christ their sins against you which God has already forgiven? Surely you cannot be serious. God’s forgiveness of us is what enables us to forgive as we are forgiven. “…I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion…” (Matt. 18:32,33). We love Him because He first loved us, therefore we can forgive others because God has forgiven us.

 

We need to regularly examine ourselves, and make sure that we are not deceiving ourselves by using past hurt, and bitter memories to somehow excuse us, or worse still justify us in our minds, from not loving and forgiving in the same manner, and to the same degree with which we have been forgiven and are loved by God. There is never any Scriptural justification for entertaining an unloving and unforgiving attitude toward anyone. If there is no Scriptural justification for not loving your enemy, how much less is there any justification for not loving and forgiving your brethren. “Is your life real, or just pretend?” If this questions puzzles you, just take note of how you think, talk and act when you are alone. Dear Christian when are you going to get serious, life-changingly serious about your Christian life, about your love for God! If you are loved and forgiven by God, there is no sin which can be committed against you that can justify your refusal to love and forgive anyone, be they friend or foe. Fully loving and forgiving others the way we are loved and forgiven by God is a celebration of God’s love and forgiveness toward us. When we act like God in loving and forgiving others we are celebrating God, we are truly loving and worshipping Him. When we refuse to love and forgive we denounce God. Unforgiveness is a renunciation of the Christian life. Love and forgiveness are not merely things which we thank God for, but they must be eagerly acted on by loving and forgiving others. The Christian life is about fulfilling the responsibility we have been given to love and forgive because we are loved and forgiven by God. We must be like our Father, we must be the children of our Father, we must forgive like our Father has forgiven us. Jesus said: “…love…bless…do good…pray…That ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven…” (Matt. 5:44,45). “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another” (Rom. 14:19). To fully live the Christian life is to fully love and freely forgive one and all. Any Christian who does not want to forgive as they have been forgiven has an extremely serious problem. Such an attitude can only come from hatred, bitterness, a disobedient vengeful heart and a kowtowing to ego and pride. Such a Christian may not feel, or interpret their unforgiveness as stemming from hatred or bitterness, but unforgiveness surely does not find its origin in love and kindheartedness. The heart of man is desperately wicked, and has deceived us all many times over. Unconsciously masking hatred and bitterness with a veneer of justification because we have unjustly suffered a wrong and been hurt, is something sinful creatures are extremely good at even though they are not even aware it is happening in them. Unforgiveness is evil, and the Christian is never to repay sin with sin, evil for evil (see (Rom. 12:17; 1 Pet. 3:9).

 

Whatever was said to you, or done against you in the past, however anyone has mistreated you, love and forgiveness must be predominant in the believer’s heart, and if predominant, love and forgiveness will always prevail. Whether or not a person has apologized to you, or whether they have yet to show any remorse and repentance for their sin, the Christian should always see to it that love and forgiveness is prevalent in his heart, manner and attitude. Forgiveness is not about the other person repenting, it’s about the Christian loving. When anyone hears of a person not having forgiven someone over the course of many years, one automatically wonders what horrible sin must have been committed against them. However, for the Christian, who is under an edict from God to love and forgive all, always, the issue is never the sin committed, but the forgiveness omitted. Anytime anyone teaches that what you do should wait for, or should be based on, what another person does first, is not teaching a life founded on unconditional love and forgiveness as the principle of Christian living. The true believer will never be comfortable unless they have loved and forgiven from the heart. True love will always prevail and produce a genuine forgiveness. Failure to forgive is like writing your own death warrant. Unforgiveness is like a covert enemy agent working within you to do nothing else but destroy you. Unforgiveness is never on your side, it will never help you, for it will only deceive you into believing your self-destructive bitterness is justified. Love and forgiveness must be paramount in a Christian’s walk, or he has no life in God. Neglecting the responsibility to forgive, for whatever reason, is to live a life of cowardly denial. Unforgiveness is a sin which strikes at the very heart of what a Christian is supposed to be and what a Christian is supposed to do. Unforgiveness reverses the reality of the responsibility each Christian has to forgive and love his fellow man. Unforgiveness is the arch-nemesis of every Christian. When you recognize it kill it! No past sin, or hurt, etc., can possibly rival the importance and urgency of forgiveness from the heart. No past sin, or hurt, should ever be allowed to defer the urgency to forgive. The need to forgive is far greater than any past sin committed against you. If you do not understand this, then you do not understand the God of love. How any Christian can comfortably live with unforgiveness in their heart toward others—which often manifests itself as conditional forgiveness—and yet happily enjoy being freely and fully forgiven their every sin, by God, is something that must be dealt with sooner rather than later. Those who keep putting off forgiveness, who just do not want to deal with it and the unpreferred changes to their life that would come because of it, i.e., having people who have hurt them in the past back in their lives, reveal something far more sinister: they simply do not want to forgive.

 

The parable of the King and his servant, who owed an unpayable debt, defines mercy and unforgiveness perfectly. Jesus said: “Therefore is the Kingdom of Heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto 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? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not EVERYONE his brother their trespasses” (Matt. 18:23-35). If one wants to be forgiven one must forgive. If you have received forgiveness from God you have a responsibility to forgive your neighbour.

 

One immediately recognizes how the actions of the forgiven servant were so miserably wrong and grossly unfair in light of how he had been treated, and that his unforgiveness exposed the servant as transparently wicked. How could anyone come from being immediately, instantly, relieved of the enormous burden of owing the insurmountable debt of ten thousand talents, and then go off and proceed to strangle a man who owed only one hundred pence! “We should find this utterly repulsive. Jesus wanted us to. But more than that, He wanted us to see our own heart before God’s forgiveness. Are we just as repulsive? What do we do with the forgiveness God has granted? Do we, in turn, forgive others? Or do we still expect justice? How forgiving are we? This parable pushes us to a deep evaluation of our own heart. We can be so unforgiving of those who sin against us. So much of our unforgiveness we’re unaware of. But like poison, it will ruin us. When we withhold forgiveness, we are saying to the world that Jesus’ grace is sufficient to clean us, but not good enough to clean others. Are we going from Sunday service to a troubled Sunday night dinner with the family? Are we harboring unforgiveness towards someone who can never undo their sin? Are we expecting something from others that we hope no one ever expects of us? Are we willing to forgive, or do we just talk about the idea of forgiving? Whatever we say about our view of forgiveness, what we really believe shows up in how we act toward others. We will either let them go with a smile in our heart or we will throw them in jail with bitterness in our heart. There is no such thing as moderate forgiveness. There is radical forgiveness or radical unforgiveness. Which are you?" Notice how the unmerciful servant did not even ask his fellow servant if he had the money, or even part of it, but came from being instantly forgiven a massive debt to, without a word being spoken, immediately strangling him on sight and demanding payment! Did this man not have any appreciation of the enormity of the forgiveness which he had just received? For all he knew, the guy may well have had the payment with him, or at least part of it. He simply was not interested, he was just so unjustifiably full of anger and hatred that he couldn’t wait to express those feelings, and violence was his only thought and intention. What could have made this forgiven man so angry, so ungrateful at having been forgiven? Unforgiveness toward our fellow man reveals a deep-seated, bizarre, resentment of God’s forgiveness of us. “We become forgiving people to the extent to which we understand God’s forgiveness of us.” Unforgiveness is not a fruit of repentance. Unforgiveness is a wicked act, a most detestable act which no Christian should ever have anything to do with. What possessed the servant to act so unmercifully after he had been forgiven so much? Why are we so outraged at the servant’s actions, and yet feel justified when we refuse to forgive?

 

In order to have a proper understanding of the size of the servant’s debt, and just how fantastic the King’s forgiveness was, we need to realize that a “…denarius was one day’s wage for a typical day laborer…the typical laborer worked 50 weeks of the year and earned an annual wage of 300 denarii…after 20 years of such labor, you will have earned 6,000 denarii” which was the equivalent of only one talent. After 20 years wages the typical laborer would still owe a staggering 9,999 talents! “From this, we can easily see that if it takes 20 years to earn one talent, then repaying 10,000 talents would require working 200,000 years!” Clearly this would be quite impossible to achieve, yet the servant in his arrogance claimed he would be able to repay the whole debt as long as the king had patience with him. In other words, ‘Be patient with me for the rest of my life and I will never repay you all that I owe’. No amount of diligent labor could have ever seen that debt paid. The same is true concerning man’s sinful state and salvation. No one can do anything to undo the fact they are sinners and can never do anything to appease Almighty God. Without faith, that is, without the faith which is given by God through the grace that saves a man, no one can please God (see Heb. 11:6). It is only mercy and grace that can save a man. It is only what God can do that will save a man. It is only the death of Christ and the forgiveness of man by a merciful God which saves a man. “…men, under guilt, and dreadful apprehensions of wrath and ruin, frequently promise, that if their lives are but spared, what they will do for God, and in a religious way; and very foolishly and ignorantly imagine, that by their humiliation and tears, their prayers and other services by their good lives and conversations, for the future, they shall be able to make compensation to God for all the iniquities they have been guilty of: which shows them to be exceeding ignorant of the nature of sin, which is committed against an infinite being, and therefore reconciliation for it cannot be made by a finite creature; as also of the nature of their duties and services, which, when performed, in ever so good a manner, can never make satisfaction for past offences, these being duties they are obliged to perform; and would have been equally obliged thereunto if they had never offended; and likewise betrays great vanity, pride, boasting, and conceit of themselves, and abilities, as that they shall be able, in a little time to pay all, when they have nothing at all to pay with: and was patience to be exercised towards them ever so long, they would still be in the same condition, and in no better capacity to make payment; but, on the contrary, would still run a larger score, and be more and more in debt. Indeed, the patience and longsuffering of God to His people is salvation (see 2 Pet. 3:9,15); not that by giving them time, and bearing with them, they discharge their debts, and work out their salvation; but waiting upon them to be gracious to them, He brings them to repentance, to a sense of themselves and sins, and to an acknowledgment of them, and leads them, by faith, to His Son for righteousness, forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life; but as for others, His patience towards them, and forbearance of them, issue in their everlasting destruction, which, by their iniquities, they are fitted for.”

 

The king soon heard of all that was done by his servant and summoned him into his presence, saying, “…O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Should not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? (Matt. 18:32,33). I hope these are not the words you will hear when you are brought into God’s Presence. Notice that the words of the king to his servant, “Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?” (Matt. 18:33), align with those of the apostle Paul to the brethren: “…even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye…forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Col. 3:13; Eph. 4:32). The forgiveness God gives to His people is to be reciprocated by them toward each other. Forgiveness is only real when you have forgiven others as God has forgiven you. The king promptly forgave the man ALL his debt, and yet the man would not forgive his fellow servant’s debt. Unforgiveness is an awful thing, it is an ugly thing and especially cringeworthy when it is exercised by one who has been forgiven far more than he will ever be expected to forgive. Unforgiveness comes from a hardened heart, and the longer one refuses to forgive the harder one’s heart will become. Unforgiveness is self-defeating. It is a vicious circle and the bigger the circle becomes the more remorselessly unmerciful the unforgiving sinner will be. The unforgiving are often the self-deceived. From where does any forgiven sinner summon the utter gall to not be a forgiving sinner.

 

There is nothing one can do with a heart that has been filled with hate. It is said that time heals all wounds, but for some people unforgiveness only gains strength with time, filling the person with a perverted sense of justice in not having forgiven. ‘I’m not going to let them get away with that’, especially when spoken by a Christian who has been forgiven everything by Almighty God no less, are the words of a wicked, shameless man. Unforgiveness comes from deep-seated, ingrained, hatred. “It is but reasonable, what ought to be, and may be expected, that such who have received mercy, should show mercy; and as the lord had compassion on his servant and had forgiven him such an immense sum, and saved him, his wife and children, from being sold for bondslaves, the least he could have done after this, would have been to have followed such an example, and have had mercy on his servant…such an instance of pity and compassion did not only set him an example, worthy of his imitation, but laid him under an obligation to have acted such a part.” Forgiveness is an obligation for the forgiven. Those who believe they are under no obligation to forgive have simply divorced themselves from reality. Those who do not forgive only think they are forgiven. What would you call a person who is not forgiven by God? “The remission which thou hast obtained from God of thy great unpayable debt of sin, must stimulate thee heartily to forgive thy brother the far more trifling debt which he has incurred as regards thee; otherwise, when the Messianic judgment comes, the righteousness of God will again rise up against thee, and thou wilt be cast into Gehenna to be punished eternally (see Matt. 5:25; 6:14; 18:35). That motive, drawn from the forgiving mercy of God, could only be exhibited in all its significance by the light shed upon it in the atoning death of Christ (see Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:12).” There is never a reason that can ever justify unforgiveness. Nothing can extenuate unforgiveness. There is never any reason for unforgiveness, only excuses. Reason would suggest logic, but there is nothing logical about a forgiven-by-God Christian not forgiving his fellow man. No one who is forgiven by God has any right not to forgive those who have sinned against them.

 

The Lord Jesus Christ informs us, in Matthew 18, that the lord of that forgiven, and yet unforgiving servant, upon hearing how his 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). The person who is indifferent, heartless and uncompassionate is described by our Lord as wicked. If you are indifferent toward any who have sinned against you, if you engage in heartlessness toward them, you are wicked. Notice here how the forgiven servant was, in turn, obligated to forgive anyone who owed him anything. With forgiveness comes the responsibility to forgive. If you have received compassion from God and been forgiven, then you should treat your fellow man in like fashion. What would make anyone who is forgiven, not forgive, not want to forgive, not delight in forgiving others? The Lord says to His people, ‘I forgave thee all your debt, should not you also have pity on your brethren’. There simply is NO reason why a Christian should refuse to forgive anyone! If you are forgiven by God shouldn’t you also forgive? Shouldn’t you also have compassion toward your neighbour who has sinned against you? Shouldn’t you also have pity on them and not wrath? Shouldn’t you also be merciful and not judicial? Shouldn’t you also be gracious and not condemning? Anything short of full forgiveness is wickedness. If you are forgiven by God why won’t you also forgive? Why won’t you also have compassion toward your neighbour who has sinned against you? Why won’t you also have pity on them and not wrath? Why won’t you also be merciful and not judicial? Why won’t you also be gracious and not condemning? “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful…condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven…For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again (Lk. 6:36-38).

 

You cannot have compassion for another, you cannot pity a fellow human being who has sinned against you by placing yourself first, by loving yourself more than your fellow man, by prioritizing your pain, because of the sin committed against you, rather than the Lord’s command to forgive as He has forgiven you. The Christian is never to act according to anyone’s sin committed against them, but always in accord with how God loves him and has forgiven him. We must be diligently vigilant in not allowing anyone’s sins against us to determine who we are. The Word of God must rule our lives, and not the sinful actions or words of others. You will not forgive unless sins committed against you are looked upon as reminders of how you have sinned against God, and how God has lovingly, mercifully and compassionately forgiven you. Unforgiveness is anti-Christ. The drive toward pity and compassion comes from the love of God in us, and always leads to love for another not love of oneself. 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.” This, in itself, settles any dispute as to whether or not we should forgive even that person or this person even that sin or this sin. FORGIVE EVERYONE EVERYTHING. “The examples of God and Christ should lead and engage unto forgiveness; 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.”

 

The enduring horror of sin is that one can never make up for it. One can never undo what has been done. One can never ‘unbrake’ a law that has been broken. We can never ‘unhurt’ a person whom we have harmed by what we have said or done against them. One can never unsay a word, or undo an action or stop the hurt that someone has already felt because of your sin against them. Forgiveness does not change the past, but it most assuredly affects the future. You can either sit on the egg of sin until it hatches into full blown bitterness and hatred, or you can smash the egg with love and forgiveness. “Without forgiveness, there is no future.” Sin and unforgiveness are such ugly words. Conversely, forgiveness is such a beautiful word, a concept which relieves the debtor of his debt and all its consequences, and frees the forgiver from a lifetime of pain. For the chosen of God, Christ Jesus has paid the debt they owed and could not possibly ever pay. All forgiveness is based on the fact that the debt has been paid by Another, a Substitute, God’s very own Son for His very own people. As we see in the parable of the king and his servant, the king graciously forgives the servant his unpayable debt. He chooses to have mercy upon him knowing that he could never repay what was owed. He does not sit and grumble over his servant’s sin, he does not chew it over and allow bitterness to form and become an established part of his thinking and attitude concerning the servant. He is driven by something other than a sinful response. He loves the servant by choosing to forgive him all his debt, and lets him go in peace. The king forgives the servant his irresponsible act of running up such an enormous debt and lets him go a free man fully liberated from his debt.

 

No one who has forgiven a person their sin has any right to resurrect that sin. The debt will never be mentioned again, for it has been forever forgiven. And yet, the servant, even after such a wonderful act of mercy, understanding and forgiveness had been bestowed upon him, inexplicably goes out and as soon as he sees a man who owes him 100 pence—the equivalent of 100 days wages—begins to throttle him demanding he repay his debt! His fellow servant begs the man to have patience with him and he will pay the debt. The exact same words the servant used in his plea with the king were echoed by his fellow servant, “have patience with me, and I will pay thee all” (Matt. 18:26,29), yet this plea has somehow fallen on deaf ears and the king’s servant was consequently thrown into prison for his evil. The servant’s reaction to his being freed and forgiven an insurmountable debt was to treat with disdain and not forgive a man who owed him a mere pittance in comparison. This is precisely what we do as Christians when we do not forgive our neighbor their sin, or sins, toward us. We who have been mercifully forgiven the largest of debts, for having sinned against the Holy King of kings and Lord of lords, refuse to forgive our fellow debtor the smallest of debts when we choose to walk unmercifully in unforgiveness. If you have been forgiven why will you not also forgive as you have been forgiven? What kind of hatred has been permitted, nay welcomed, into a man’s heart, and embraced, that causes a forgiven man to refuse to forgive another. How can a Christian not forgive anyone, knowing how much he has been forgiven? Is the forgiven man in some way superior to his fellow sinner? Is there any sin or situation in which a Christian is not expected to forgive? How can a Christian choose not to have mercy upon one who has sinned against him, knowing the only reason he is Heaven-bound is due to the grace and mercy of a loving and forgiving God.

 

Why will you not forgive, dear Christian? Why will you not be sensitive to those who have asked you for forgiveness? Why do you ignore your fellow believer? Why do you choose not to  walk in love toward him? Why have you separated yourself from him. Why have you ceased all communication with him? Why will you not have mercy upon him? Why will you not forgive him as God has forgiven you? Why don’t you want to be loving and merciful? Why? Don’t you want to be loving and compassionate toward your fellow man as God is toward you? Don’t you want to see the characteristics of God Himself alive and active in you. Why do you kick against the pricks? ‘It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks’ (Acts 9:5 cf. 26:14; Num. 33:55) was a Greek proverb, but it was also familiar to the Jews and anyone who made a living in agriculture. An ox goad was a stick with a pointed piece of iron on its tip used to prod the oxen when plowing. The farmer would prick the animal to steer it in the right direction. Sometimes the animal would rebel by kicking out at the prick, and this would result in the prick being driven even further into its flesh. In essence, the more an ox rebelled, the more it suffered. Thus, Jesus’ words to Saul on the road to Damascus: ‘It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks’ (Acts 9:5).To ‘kick against the pricks’ is nothing less than an exercise in vanity; futile and pointless. The Greeks and Romans used this saying to imply ‘ruinous resistance’. There is a powerful lesson in the ancient Greek proverb. We, too, find it hard to kick against the pricks. Solomon wrote, ‘Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way…’ (Prov. 15:10). When we choose to disobey God, we become like the rebellious ox—driving the goad deeper and deeper. ‘…his servants ye are to whom ye obey…' (Rom. 6:16). ‘…the way of transgressors is hard’ (Prov. 13:15). How much better to heed God’s voice, to listen to the pangs of conscience! By resisting God’s authority we are only punishing ourselves.” To not forgive a brother or sister in Christ is transgression. “…to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (Jas. 4:17). To not forgive anyone is to set a stumbling block against your neighbour and is tantamount to rejoicing when they fall. “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth” (Prov. 24:17). If your house was on a train track and a train was fast approaching, it would do you no good to draw the curtains. The only thing you should do is  GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! And when someone sins against you, dear Christian, FACE REALITY! Don’t go near the house of unforgiveness, don’t turn a blind eye, or you will be destroyed, run from that house LIVE AND FORGIVE! If you recognize unforgiveness in you, don’t shirk the reality of your responsibility, resist unforgiveness by loving and forgiving. Love your enemies, love your brethren, love your neighbour as yourself. We should all hate unforgiveness for what it represents, but more so for what it does not represent: the love of God. Unforgiveness is direct disobedience toward God. If you seek to have a good conscience, start with love and forgiveness for all who have sinned against you. To mortify your sins (see Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:1-10), means to have nothing more to do with them. This includes the atrocious and self-serving, self-focused, yet self-destructive, sin of unforgiveness.

 

To sin against God is such an appalling crime, the enormity of which is seen in the fact that forgiveness for sins against God could not take place without the Son of God laying down His very life for God’s people so they could be forgiven. In light of the colossal sacrifice carried out by Christ Jesus the Lord, what right does any Christian have to not forgive anyone a few pence in comparison with the thousands of talents worth of sin they have committed against Almighty God, no less, and yet been forgiven? Being a Christian does not in any way give you a license not to forgive, nor the right to pick and choose whom you will forgive. On the contrary, being a forgiven Christian comes with an obligation to forgive as you have been forgiven by God. That is what forgiveness is, forgiving like God forgives. Anything less than this is simply not forgiveness. What right does any Christian for whom Christ died, have to not forgive anyone else for whom Christ has died and paid the penalty their sins deserved? Has the Christian the right to punish them for sins that have already been punished in Christ? Are we to condemn our brethren whose sins and guilt have all been blotted out by Christ Jesus the Lord? No. Not at all. Those forgiven by God are under an obligation to forgive all those who have sinned against them. The thing of it is, however, that it never feels like an obligation, but rather a compulsion, a necessity, a longing to be merciful and tender hearted in order to bring God the glory. Forgiveness is a willingness to love others as we are loved by God. You cannot function properly, Biblically, as a Christian without love and forgiveness. There is no other option but to forgive, and the true Christian will never seek one. True Christianity does not look for excuses not to forgive, this includes any appeal to a person’s unrepentance as reason enough not to forgive them. You have run to God for forgiveness, now run to your neighbour and forgive them in the same way. Be who you are! Forgiven men are forgiving men. The Christian is what he is, and that’s who he should be: A forgiven man and a forgiving man, a loved man and a loving man. Christians have been forgiven everything, so what right do any of us have to not forgive IN EQUAL MEASURE those who have sinned against us, particularly brethren who have been forgiven by God Himself. Will you not forgive a brother their sin which God has already forgiven? Will you not be meek and compassionate, merciful and loving toward your own brother or sister in Christ? It is unforgiveness which is your enemy not your Christian brethren, and when you side with unforgiveness it is you who becomes your worst enemy, not your brother in Christ.

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