LOVE AND FORGIVENESS - PART 3

God is never the Advocate of unforgiveness in His people, but is always the Advocate for the repentant sinner. God has nailed His people’s sins to the cross so why do you still angrily seek payment from a brother who has sinned against you. Not forgiving a brother or sister in Christ is to trample the blood of Jesus which was shed for you both. All unforgiveness demands payment. Forgiveness waives all debt. God is satisfied with the payment His Son has made, so why do you still seek payment through your sinful unforgiveness of a brother. How can you sit there enjoying the benefits of God’s forgiveness, and yet refuse to forgive your brethren in like fashion whom God loves and has fully forgiven. “…as no one can reasonably imagine himself to be the object of Divine forgiveness who is deliberately and habitually unforgiving towards his fellow men, so it is a beautiful provision to make our right to ask and expect daily forgiveness of our daily shortcomings and our final absolution and acquittal at the great day of admission into the Kingdom, dependent upon our consciousness of a forgiving disposition towards our fellows, and our preparedness to protest before the Searcher of hearts that we do actually forgive them. God sees His own image reflected in His forgiving children; but to ask God for what we ourselves refuse to men, is to insult Him. So much stress does our Lord put upon this, that immediately after the close of the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:12, it is the one point in it which He comes back upon, for the purpose of solemnly assuring us that the Divine procedure in this matter of forgiveness will be exactly what our own is: ‘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. Col. 3:25).” Quite disturbingly, the following words spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ are completely omitted from the New International Version: “But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mk. 11:26). Dear Christian, if there is unforgiveness in your heart toward any, I plead with you to go to them now and forgive them from your heart as God has forgiven you. “A prolonged unforgiveness is a prolonged destruction mindset.” Prolonged unforgiveness, and a disinterested, indifferent, mindset to forgive may be a sign that one is not at all forgiven of God.

 

The Christian’s life is to love as he is loved and to forgive as he is forgiven. You cannot be a Christian without love and forgiveness being predominant in your heart: the love and forgiveness of God toward you, and your loving and forgiving others. The Christian is to be holy, for God is Holy: “But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:15,16). There is no other criterion that is more expressive of a real Gospel-believing Christian than love and forgiveness from the heart. After the king punished his servant, Jesus said: “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 cf. Prov. 21:13; Matt. 6:15; Mk. 1:25,26; Jas. 2:13). There should be absolutely no reluctance, no hesitation in the Christian to forgiving others the way God has forgiven us. The evil of practicing unforgiveness is fraught with peril, for unforgiveness begins with hurt and leads to hate if not dealt with promptly and maturely. The sins of others must be forgiven by the one whose own sins are forgiven by God. There is nothing beneficial about unforgiveness, it only damages the soul and leads to more hurt. Unforgiveness disfigures the soul. It is destructive in its nature both toward the unforgiver and the unforgiven. Unforgiveness is shameful and tears at the very heart and soul of the believer, and if not treated Scripturally can lead to awful and unimagined consequences. Unforgiveness destroys, it pollutes the soul of a man, and at the very least leads to chastisement by the Lord toward His loved ones. “But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons” (Heb. 12:8). The Christian should be aghast at any unforgiveness present in them. We should recoil at its presence and banish it into oblivion by making sure that love, mercy, compassion, forgiveness and above all grace—the same five elements which have saved our very souls—are at the forefront of our lives.

 

“Some signs that we have not forgiven others are common experience. One sign is that we have distanced ourselves from them, instead of living in harmony and collaboration. This is, initially, reasonable to protect ourselves from further damage, but the silent treatment is far short of reconciliation.” There is no forgiveness without full reconciliation, or at the very least a full and exhaustive effort to fully reconcile. “Despite what we may tell ourselves that we have forgiven them and it is all okay now, the ongoing fracture and coldness in the relationship indicates that we have not forgiven the other person.” ‘Forgiving’, and ‘reconciling’, but refusing to allow the restored relationship to proceed beyond a certain point, is not Biblical forgiveness. It is not how God has forgiven you. Only full reconciliation reveals true forgiveness. Only a full reconciliation reveals a sincere and genuine desire to forgive others as we are forgiven by God. Actions are the most accurate and revealing way to gauge what we truly desire. Both what we do, and what we do not do, exposes what is in our heart. For those concerned as to whether they have really forgiven that person, a good question to ask yourselves is: ‘Is our relationship the same as it was before the sin occurred?’. If it is not, then there has been no Biblical forgiveness which has taken place. True forgiveness holds no grudges or vendettas against anyone no matter what they have done. If sin has been permitted to cause any negative change to the relationship then you have not taken up your responsibility to Biblically forgive that person. Forgiveness is love’s roadblock to sin affecting a relationship in any negative way. Only forgiveness can stop the negative and destructive influence of sin in a relationship. Is love still the ruler in the relationship, or has it been replaced with indifference and apathy? “An apathetic person is without feelings, not because they chose to, but because they can't, they are incapable of response. An indifferent person simply doesn't care or isn't concerned, not because they can't, but because they won't.” “Another sign that we have not reached forgiveness is that we continue to feel bitterness or frustration about the situation. Whenever the other person comes to mind, we are irritated. The offense of their wrong against us remains unresolved, so we carry this burden. Unfortunately, we get so familiar with carrying these burdens of our bitterness against others that we do not even realize we are doing it, like carrying rocks in our backpack that just seem our normal load in life. Maybe we want to remain bitter, or maybe we want to retaliate by cutting the other off from relationship with us. Whatever we might label our attempt to forgive this is not forgiveness, and we will pay the price in bitterness and loss of harmony with others. Moreover, the wounds we sustained from that person will continue to condition future relationships so that we will interact with others according to those damages. Wounds untreated get only worse like a festering infection without the needed treatment.” Even actor Joaquin Phoenix stated recently at the Oscars, “I'm grateful that so many of you in this room have given me a second chance. And I think that's when we're at our best, when we support each other, not when we cancel each other out for past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow, when we educate each other, when we guide each other toward redemption". Heal all the wounds of sin with love and forgiveness. Refuse to forgive, and the worst of your life’s wounds will have been self-inflicted.

 

Unforgiveness is nothing but calculated and cold-blooded retaliation against the person who has sinned against you. No sin committed by our fellow man can surpass the premeditated evil of our unforgiveness towards it. The coldest place on earth is the heart of the person who refuses to forgive. Unforgiveness is not something which happens to you, it is never an accident or unintentional, it is a sin you willfully commit against others. While you are busy pointing your finger at what this person did to you, or what that person said to you or about you, you are committing the worst sin: unforgiveness. Nothing anyone has ever done against you could ever surpass the evil of your unforgiveness toward them. There is no reason for unforgiveness in the Christian, especially toward a fellow Christian, only excuses not to love. Some people, in an effort to draw sympathy from others, and paint themselves in a better light, say they want to forgive but are unable, or do not know how to, because of the enormity of the sin committed against them. The reality of the situation is that all such people are unwilling to forgive. They will not make any allowance for sin in the lives of others, neither will they face the reality that they, too, are sinners in need of forgiveness. There is no mercy in them. If you are a Christian you are forgiven by God, and in turn you must forgive all others and live in harmony with them to the very best of your ability. There is a universal desire in all of us to be forgiven, and yet, there are many who refuse to forgive. If you need forgiveness you must forgive. There is nothing that is merciful, kind or loving about unforgiveness. When love and forgiveness are not predominant in a man’s life, he 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 cf. Jas. 4:10,11). “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8). “Love for each other includes forgiving each other, overlooking past hurts, and building each other up when we fall. It is difficult for sin and resentment to flourish in a heart rich in Christ-like love.” It is so easy to get caught up in ego and pride of life, to allow oneself to become entangled in all sorts of jealousies, envies, resentment and bitterness. This all leads to a negative attitude which inevitably translates into self-harm. Love is never negative toward anyone. Love is beautiful and patient and kind, and merciful and gracious, it is never selfish, but always longsuffering, always merciful, always forgiving.

 

Love is free. You cannot have freedom without love. Forgiveness will not occur without love, longsuffering, patience and a sincere dedicated commitment to the will and glorification of God. The Christian life is a charitable life, a life filled with, and guided by, love: love for God and love for our neighbour. “The love of God, and of our neighbour for God’s sake, is patient toward all men. It suffers all the weakness, ignorance, errors, and infirmities of the children of God; and all the malice and wickedness of the children of the world; and all this not only for a time, but to the end; and in every step toward overcoming evil with good, it is kind — Mild, gentle, benign; inspiring the sufferer at once with the most amiable sweetness, and the most fervent and tender affection.” One must not forget the grace of the love and forgiveness by which the Christian is forgiven. Our love and forgiveness of others is not deserved by them, nevertheless, it is something every Christian owes to every man particularly his Christian brethren. “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law…Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law (Rom. 13:8-10). You simply cannot justify any unforgiveness in a life that is to be lived according to love. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another” (1 Jn. 4:11); “…love one another. And this is love, that we walk after His commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it” (2 Jn. 5,6). Unforgiveness is the veritable antithesis of love. Unforgiveness is incompatible with love. Those who do not love will not forgive. Those who will not forgive are not loving God or their neighbour. Those who do not forgive are not loving, and so, are working ill toward their neighbour. Unforgiveness is always due to the absence of love which comes from an obstinate refusal to love. “The transition of the thought in Romans 13 is something of this kind. When you have paid all your other debts, taxes, and customs, and reverence, and whatever else you may owe, there will still be one debt unpaid—the universal debt of love. Love must still remain the root and spring of all your actions. No other law is needed besides.” From love comes forgiveness by grace. Forgiveness is not based on you or the other person, but on God. Forgiveness does not depend on how well others treat you, but on how loving you are toward them. Unconditional forgiveness, a relationship-restoring forgiveness, comes from a right relationship with God. We are forgiven by grace and we are to forgive by grace. True love never waits for anyone to do anything before it will love. Love just loves because loving is all love wants to do, it is all love can do. Love has no intake valve. Love only gives. Love never takes, it never expects anything in return. The more love gives the more love grows. Live your life according to love with eyes fixed upon God, and you will live the most fulfilling and freedom-filled life possible. The true Christian loves to love. The true Christian loves to forgive.

 

The Christian must not merely praise God for His love, grace and forgiveness, he must and indeed desires to show this love, grace and forgiveness toward all others. The Christian life is one of action, it is to act on the love of God, not merely admire it and praise Him for it. The Christian life is not one which entails a mere acknowledgement of God and His truth, it is a life which lives out that truth, a life which mirrors the love, mercy and forgiveness of God. True Christians do not merely talk the talk, they actually walk the walk. Christianity stops where unforgiveness begins. Unforgiveness is halted when one begins to love as one is loved by God. Love for God and one’s neighbour ceases when an unwillingness to forgive reigns in a person’s heart. The starting point of forgiveness is God. Your love for the only true God should translate into love and forgiveness of your neighbour in general, and your Christian brethren in particular. Love and grace is the fuel supply our forgiveness needs. Love and grace never give up, and as a consequence, forgiveness always follows. Whenever grace and love are present, so too, is forgiveness. The Christian life is an active life, it is a life that is to be filled with love, love for God shown in our love for our fellow man and through the gracious forgiveness of any who sin against us. God wants His people to be like Him. He wants us to love and forgive as He loves and forgives us. God wants His people to experience Him by doing what He does. “…be ye holy; for I am holy…forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you…even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (1 Pet. 1:16; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13). God loves and forgives His people, and He desires them all to love and forgive one another.

 

Unforgiveness demonstrates an utter failure in properly understanding and appreciating one’s being forgiven by God. The Christian’s relationship with God is to be an intimate one, and one cannot have an intimate relationship with God if one refuses to love one’s neighbour as oneself. Unforgiveness is a refusal to communicate God’s love in you to others. How can you truly express thanks to God for His forgiving you by not forgiving your fellow man? How can you live with the love of God in your heart and simultaneously entertain hatred and bitterness toward your fellow man, even a brother or sister in Christ? How can a man walk in love, and yet live with unforgiveness in his heart? Why are you not warring against that which wars against your soul? If you are not loving the brethren you cannot be forgiving the brethren. If you are not loving you are hating. If you are not healing a relationship through love and forgiveness, you are harming the relationship. The will of God for His people is for them to love and forgive all. Nothing pleases God more than to see His people becoming more and more like Jesus His Son. And you cannot become more and more like Jesus without forgiving everyone all they have ever done against you, and restoring a right, Biblically appropriate relationship with them. Unforgiveness closes doors, love opens them all. Love never closes the door on any relationship. Love and forgiveness do not end relationships, they cause them to blossom. You cannot love your fellow man by refusing to forgive your fellow man as you have been forgiven by God. “He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked” (1 Jn. 2:6 cf. 1 Pet. 1:14-16). This includes loving and forgiving others as you are loved and forgiven by God. Forgiveness is putting God’s will for you in place of everything in you that would seek to betray God by not loving your neighbour. All sin is a betrayal and rebellion against God. “Sin is rebellion, the uprising of the will against rightful authority - not merely the breach of abstract propriety or law, but opposition to a living Person, who has right to obedience. The definition of virtue is obedience to God, and the sin in sin is the assertion of independence of God and opposition to His will.” When the mask of unforgiveness you know is in your heart toward others is removed it is revealed to be nothing more complicated than rebellion against God. It is saying to God, ‘I love your forgiveness of me, but I will not forgive that person or persons their sin against me no matter what you say’. Only full forgiveness toward others is the proper expression of gratitude toward, and love for, God and His forgiveness of us. Any praise to God for His forgiveness of you is negated, cancelled out, by your unforgiveness of others (see Matt. 6:15). Anything less than forgiving as we have been forgiven does not in any way constitute forgiveness as God knows it. Unforgiveness is hate. If it is not forgiveness it is unforgiveness. If it is not love it is hate. Love will always forgive and forgiveness will always love. To love is to forgive, and to forgive is to love.  Unforgiveness is being without love, and to not love assures unforgiveness a dictatorial and prominent place in one’s heart.

 

‘Love like you have never been hurt.’ Even the world advocates this, but for the Christian his forgiveness is to the glorification of God and the promotion of peace among God’s people. Forgiveness stabilizes peace, it restores peace to its rightful place. No matter how much the hurt, love all the more. This is not some cute saying, but what must be the reality for every true believer. Sadly, many have disconnected themselves from reality serving their sin nature rather than God. The Christian life is not about you, it’s about loving God the way He loves you. “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30). Are you a Christian? If you are where is your love? Do you live for God, or do you live for yourself? Is God increasing in your life, or is your will the predominant factor in how you conduct yourself toward others? Remember, everything you do is an expression of what you want. The only way you can truly combat the hurt you have received from others is to forgive them. Don’t swallow their poison, spit it out and love. Forgiveness is far superior to the sin that has been committed against you, for love conquers all. Love can break any heart of stone, effortlessly! God is love, and His children are the children of love. Love conquers all. “…love your enemies…” (Matt. 5:44), no one can defeat you if you love them. Love is unconquerable. No sin can undo your love or prevent your love except the sin of willful unforgiveness. Love cannot be conquered, you can only choose not to walk in it. No sin can stop love. Believe it or not, no one’s sin is the cause behind you not loving them. Only you can stop your love. For the Christian, love is always there, always within you, always ready to love. Love is your responsibility. With love will come forgiveness, mercy, grace, meekness, humility and compassion. Without love for the only true God, for all His children as well as all men in general, there will only be a self love that will ultimately destroy you.

 

Fully forgive your fellow man, and then back up that forgiveness, make it real, by treating him as if he has never sinned against you. THAT is real forgiveness. THAT is real love. THAT is the love and forgiveness with which God has loved and forgiven you, and expects you to love and forgive others with. True love and forgiveness always go that extra mile. Real love and forgiveness only get stronger when attacked by sin. When processed correctly, sin committed against you can only make your love and forgiveness stronger, just like holding onto, and lifting weights, instead of allowing them to crash down on you, makes you physically stronger. Forgiveness just wants to forgive and love just wants to love. If you want to love you will forgive. If your love for God is real you will forgive. The determination to love and forgive places your neighbour’s need to be loved and forgiven way above one’s own personal life-wounds and scars. “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. Charity never faileth…” (1 Cor. 13:4-8). Love is always on the side of the one who has sinned against you. Love is patient, and always seeks “…the things of God, and what will make most for His honour and glory; and the things of Christ, and what relate to the spread of His Gospel, and the enlargement of His kingdom; and also the things of other men, the temporal and spiritual welfare of the saints: such look not only on their own things, and are concerned for them, but also upon the things of others, which they likewise care for”. Forgiveness cannot occur without love. Seeing that love never fails, forgiveness will always flow from the heart filled with love for God. The sins committed against you are nowhere near as significant or powerful as the love and forgiveness you need to respond with. We all tend to magnify the sins which have been committed against us, and have our pity parties, etc., but fail dismally in realizing the enormous unfathomable power of love and forgiveness. The desperate need to obey God always places God’s command for His people to forgive as He has forgiven them way above any personal injury felt. Forgiveness eclipses sin.

 

To love is “to express the essential nature of God (see 1 Jn. 4:8). Love can be known only from the actions it prompts. God's love is seen in the gift of His Son (see 1 Jn. 4:9,10). But obviously this is not the love of complacency, or affection, that is, it was not drawn out by any excellency in its objects (see Rom. 5:8). It was an exercise of the Divine will in deliberate choice, made without assignable cause save that which lies in the nature of God Himself (see Deut. 7:7,8). Love had its perfect expression among men in the Lord Jesus Christ (see 2 Cor. 5:14; Eph. 2:4; 3:19; 5:2). Christian love is the fruit of His Spirit in the Christian (see Gal. 5:22).Christian love has God for its primary object, and expresses itself first of all in implicit obedience to His commandments (see Jn. 14:15,21,23; 15:10; 1 Jn. 2:5;5:3; 2 Jn. 1:6). Self-will, that is, self-pleasing, is the negation of love to God.” Unforgiveness in the Christian is an expression of self-will never the will of God. “Christian love, whether exercised toward the brethren, or toward men generally, is not an impulse from the feelings, it does not always run with the natural inclinations, nor does it spend itself only upon those for whom some affinity is discovered. Love seeks the welfare of all (see Rom. 15:2), and works no ill to any (see Rom. 13:8-10); love seeks opportunity to do good to '…all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith’ (Gal. 6:10). In respect of agapao as used of God, it expresses the deep and constant ‘love’ and interest of a perfect Being towards entirely unworthy objects, producing and fostering a reverential ‘love in them towards the Giver, and a practical ‘love’ towards those who are partakers of the same, and a desire to help others to seek the Giver.”

 

If you really care about yourself, if you really do love the only true God, don’t walk in the ways of unforgiveness and bitterness, don’t live an anti-love life, but love and forgive in the exact same way God loves and has forgiven you. “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments” (1 Jn. 5:2). Ask yourself the question, ‘Do I really love the brethren?’ ‘Do I really love God enough to fully forgive all those who sin against me?’ Loving God and obeying His command to forgive unconditionally is the only way you can prove it. The proof of your love will be seen in your unreserved forgiveness of others. “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). They say if you want to be rich copy what the rich do. Well, if you want to be like Jesus copy what He does. Follow Him in all that He says and all that He does. Be kind and loving, compassionate and merciful to one and all. Have done with unforgiveness! Have done with hatred and bitterness! Have done with your imprudent and selfish ways and start being the Christian you are supposed to be: LOVE AND FORGIVE ONE AND ALL!! Love and forgiveness is the Christian’s command, not hatred and retribution. Unforgiveness is always the action of the unwise and unloving. “Forgiveness is the wiping out of an offense from memory; it can be effected only by the one affronted. Once eradicated, the offense no longer conditions the relationship between the offender and the one affronted, and harmony is restored between the two. The only thing that can block a relationship from being restored to a state of harmony, is unforgiveness which comes from a heart that is not loving. Forgiveness removes all disharmony and restores peace and love to a relationship. Forgiveness is love displacing sin and restoring peace. Love and forgiveness bring peace and joy which, in turn, bring freedom from a sinful and retaliatory attitude. Nothing and no one can hold you back from love and forgiveness except you and a root of bitterness. You can never be doing wrong when you love and forgive God’s way. You are always fulfilling the will of God when you love and forgive your neighbour, no matter their sin. You have embraced God and His love and forgiveness toward you, now embrace those who have sinned against you and love and forgive them in like manner. Be committed, be determined, be resolute in your decision to live like a Christian: love and forgive your enemies, love and forgive your friends, love and forgive your brethren. “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil” (Prov. 4:25-27).

 

TO LIVE AS A CHRISTIAN IS TO LOVE LIKE GOD AND FORGIVE LIKE GOD. The freedom to love like God and forgive like God is given to all God’s children by grace. You have that power, dear Christian, to love and forgive like God, and no one can force you to not love and forgive as you are loved and forgiven. No sin that has ever, or will ever be committed against you has the power within it to stop you from loving and forgiving. The only power unforgiveness and hate have over you comes from you, love destroys that power and gives you the freedom to forgive. Unforgiveness NEVER has a hold on you, it is always you who have grasped and will not let go of unforgiveness when you choose not to love as you are loved by God. We think that we are beholden to our feelings, but we’re not. We feel that we are obliged to hold a grudge and vindicate ourselves at having been sinned against just because we feel hurt, but we’re not. We sometimes think that if we experience harm and clearly indentify an injustice performed against us that we have a right to follow through and retaliate in some way against our persecutor, but we do not. The Christian’s obligation is not to avenge, but to forgive. The love of God compels us to forgive. The reality of the situation is that the Christian HAS NO RIGHT of retaliation, no right to strike back, no right to not love their enemies, friends and brethren, no right not to forgive. Some people act as if it is their God-given right not to forgive someone, or not to forgive certain sins, or they think that if their pain has reached a certain level this somehow exempts them from forgiving. Some people act as if no one has any right to sin against them, and if they do, then they have a perfect right not to forgive them. The Christian is not to live his life in accordance with how people treat them, but only in accord with how God loves and has forgiven them. Life is not about how people act toward you, but how you behave toward other people. Fundamentally, life is not about what others do to you, but whether you forgive them or not. No matter how much you set your eyes on others, God fixes His attention on you, on His people, what they do and say to others.

 

The life of love always seizes on the opportunity to forgive. The Christian is only and eternally obligated to God Who has forgiven him fully and freely and expects him to do the same. This is all perfectly reasonable I would have thought, apparently, however, many have conveniently termed the entire premise as impossible in an effort to excuse their unforgiveness. “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison expecting it to somehow hurt the person one is not forgiving.” “Unforgiveness is a poison that shrivels the heart. It means a person cannot truly live in the present as they're always thinking about the past.” The unforgiveness which you harbor, even for a Christian brother, cannot damage the one who forgives you your unforgiveness. Your unforgiveness in such a case will only hurt you. No matter how you spin it, unforgiveness is an impediment which prohibits you from living a full and free Christian life. All unforgiveness is self-destructive. Unforgiveness is relative to spiritual immaturity. Unforgiveness exposes a life which is still living, still thinking according to carnal reasoning, and not with a mind that is conformed to God’s Will and Word. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:1,2). Do not hate your enemies, love your enemies; do not do evil against those who hate you, but do good; do not despise your brethren by unforgiveness, but love them and forgive them as Christ has forgiven you. So often we justify our hatred and bitterness toward others by reflecting on them as the reason for our pain. If we would only allow ourselves the time to understand that the pain we feel is actually exacerbated by our refusal to forgive and love. When we love and forgive the pain dissipates. Unwillingness to forgive is the problem, not the person or the sin they have committed against you. How you respond to the sin that has been committed against you will determine your attitude toward the one who has sinned against you. If you choose to obey God and love, you will forgive the person and be merciful and compassionate toward them. If, however, you choose bitterness and not forgiveness, you will hold onto the hurt and forever hold the person who harmed you in contempt, guilty and deserving of nothing but your wrath. Is this how you believe God wants you to live your life? Unforgiveness refuses to deal with sin the Biblical way, and insists upon you reacting to sin in accord with your sinful nature. Unforgiveness is utterly abhorrent, and never so appalling as when found residing in a Christian’s heart.

 

The blessings of forgiveness will bring: “Inner peace and happiness; you will be able to breathe easier and be free of guilt; you get rid of the negatives which unforgiveness has brought you and free yourself from all that unforgiveness has been holding you back from; You break free from your ego’s hold on you; You preserve relationships with people rather than sabotaging them with the seed of vengeance; You give others a second chance and the possibilities of new beginnings; You show your kids and others you love that forgiveness is possible even in the most extreme cases of sin; Importantly, you allow the past to remain in the past, and not dictate how you will live in the present and future. Forgiveness shows you have taken responsibility for your own life; You’re able to extend compassion and empathy to others; Forgiveness heals.” Most importantly, forgiveness of others brings glory to God.

 

The reason for love is God. The reason for forgiveness is God. No sin committed by anyone qualifies as an exception to the rule of love and forgive as you are loved and forgiven by God. Are you holier than God? Is the sin your Christian brother or sister committed against you more serious than the fact their sin is also against God for which He has forgiven them? Why will you not forgive what God has already forgiven? Why do you even mention the sin, when you know that God has forgiven it? Why will you not love the one God loves by forgiving them as God has forgiven you both? The tragedy of unforgiveness in a Christian’s life, is that the brother who has sinned against you has been forgiven by God and is living a life of freedom and joy because of it, while you, the unforgiving Christian, chooses to walk on in bitterness and pain. “Unforgiveness is trampling underfoot the forgiveness that Jesus gave you. It ignores the magnitude of your own forgiven sin. You have no right to judge another and to condemn them for their sin, as though your sins were nothing. This ties in with the two verses where we are to forgive one another as in Christ, God forgave us (see Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13)…Unforgiveness not only is spiritually and emotionally damaging to us, but it literally poisons our physical bodies. Medical science has shown that toxic thoughts, such as anger and unforgiveness, produce an electro-chemical reaction in the brain that sends out toxins to every cell in our body. Eventually, it takes its toll on us in sickness and disease. There are negative physical and medical risks posed with holding onto an angry grudge. They include heart disease, high blood pressure, headaches, digestive imbalances, insomnia, anxiety and depression, skin problems including eczema, and stroke. Unforgiveness is classified in medical books as a disease. According to Dr. Steven Standiford, chief of surgery at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, refusing to forgive makes people sick and keeps them that way. With that in mind, forgiveness therapy is now being used to help treat diseases, such as cancer…Of all cancer patients, 61 percent have forgiveness issues. Of those, more than half are severe…Harboring these negative emotions, this anger and hatred, creates a state of chronic anxiety. Chronic anxiety very predictably produces excess adrenaline and cortisol, which deplete the production of natural killer cells, which is your body’s foot soldier in the fight against cancer…withholding forgiveness is like allowing a tumor to spread aggressively through our body while ignoring the necessary treatment to eradicate it. A life spent practicing unforgiveness toward those who have wounded us feeds that malignant growth in our soul, hinders our capacity for healthy relationships and binds us in the oppressive chains of anger, suspicion, resentment and fear. The residual effect of this cancer of the soul is that it inevitably targets the healthiest of our relationships. With laser-like precision, our unforgiving ways inflict collateral damage on those we love most, pushing them away from us. Withholding forgiveness can make us feel good, even righteous, for a time. But inevitably, even our sense of righteousness transforms into a deep-rooted bitterness that has a toxic effect on our hearts, our souls and our relationships. Unforgiveness is holding out for some sort of satisfaction, some kind of payment from your offender, and you are not entitled to any such thing. Unforgiveness denies the payment that Jesus already paid at the cross.” Unforgiveness is an expression of revenge even if it does not manifest itself in overtly evil thoughts, words or deeds. Love must be active, forgiveness must be active to be real. The Christian who has been sinned against is entitled to absolutely nothing, not even an apology, but is obligated to love and forgive the one who has sinned against them. People say, ‘But doesn’t it mean something that I have been sinned against?’ Yes, it surely does. It means you need to love and forgive the person who has sinned against you just as God loves and has forgiven you your sins against Him!

 

The Christian is commanded to love as he is loved, and to forgive as he is forgiven. “…be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). Kindness and tender heartedness will always lead to forgiveness. To live in love and forgiveness is to live against the very nature of our being. It is to live on another plane of existence. To love and forgive in the face of sin is to understand God, it is to know God, it is to love God. To love God is to know God is to live like God is to be full of grace, mercy, kindness, tenderheartedness, forgiveness and love. “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matt. 6:14). We are left in no doubt from the Word of God that God’s forgiveness of His people is tied to their forgiveness of others. Contrary to what most Christians may believe, the consequences of not forgiving are as real as those that occur when forgiveness is given. “…as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Col. 3:13). The only way to forgive another is to forgive in the exact same manner that Christ has forgiven His people. That is the only acceptable standard, and anything which falls short of this is NOT true Biblical forgiveness. Be not deceived. Those who continue down the path of a sham forgiveness are only fooling and hurting themselves, and, more importantly, grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit. “…forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” (Lk. 6:37 cf. Matt. 6:15; Mk. 11:25,26). If God’s forgiveness of you has had little to no effect upon you in your forgiveness of others, there looms the rather considerably large question concerning the reality of whether you have been forgiven at all, of whether you are saved at all. “For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (Jas. 2:13). Jesus said: “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt. 5:7). Conversely, the unmerciful will obviously not obtain mercy. Those who are unmerciful will face an unmerciful God on Judgment Day. In other words, you cannot be born again, a forgiven child of God if you display an unwilling attitude toward forgiving any. Unforgiveness is unforgiveable. A life lived in consistent unforgiveness shows that one has not been forgiven by God, for if they had, they would surely rejoice in forgiving others. There is no rhyme or reason for unforgiveness in a Christian who has been so lovingly forgiven by God. Unforgiveness is inexcusable. Unforgiveness is an unspeakable horror. “Unforgiveness will blindside you; unforgiveness will grow inside you, it will spread around you and hijack your life. Unforgiveness will become a dangerous boomerang” if you do not deal with it promptly and expel it from your life by loving and forgiving your neighbour.

 

The Christian needs to confess his sins to God AND forsake them! The sin of unforgiveness must be repented of and FORSAKEN, it must be wholly abandoned and replaced with love and forgiveness for one’s neighbor, enemy, friend, brother and sister in Christ. Do not neglect forgiveness, or make excuses for unforgiveness in your daily walk with Christ. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy(Prov. 28:13 cf. Prov. 19:11). Confess your sin of unforgiveness to God, and to the one you have, heretofore, refused to forgive, and forgive them their sins as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you. To hide your sin of unforgiveness from others and even from yourself by excusing it based on the magnitude of what was committed against you will only lead to misery. Confess your unforgiveness as sin, now. Forsake your sin of unforgiveness now. Forgive your neighbour now. Don’t be one of those people who finally end up forgiving on their death beds, forgive NOW, love NOW, live NOW! Delight yourself in mercy as the Lord delights Himself in mercy: “…He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He deligheth in mercy” (Mic. 7:18 cf. Psa. 136). The sins committed against you literally pale into sheer insignificance when seen in the light of love and its fruit of unconditional forgiveness. Forgiveness is a blessing to everyone: to yourself, to the one you have forgiven and to all those who witness your forgiveness, moreover, it brings glory to God. “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Mk. 11:25 cf. Mk. 11:26; Matt. 6:15; Lk. 6:37). Again we see how God’s forgiveness of His people is inextricably connected to their forgiveness of others. The forgiven will forgive. Notice the words, “if ye have ought against any"The forgiveness a Christian is expected to forgive with will forgive anything and everything done against them by anyone and everyone. No sin committed against us is unforgiveable. No one who has sinned against us can be legitimately excluded from the forgiveness every Christian is commanded to utilize in and through their lives. Yes, the worst enemy you have ever had in your life is to be fully forgiven no matter what they have done to you, or to a loved one. As a Christian you have absolutely no right to treat them any differently to how God has treated you. Some have felt justified in separating from a husband, wife or friend, even brethren because of sin, but the reality of the situation is that as a Christian you can never escape the obligation to love and forgive one and all. You can fool yourself into thinking you have, and that the situation isn’t even real anymore, but reality, Biblical reality says different. If you have no intention to forgive, then may I suggest you remove your Christian veneer and at least have the courage to be honest with yourself as to who you are and what spirit you are of. “If the forgiveness received is so ineffective that you are bent on holding unforgiving grudges, you are not saved.” No one may be Biblically exempt from being forgiven by you. It is important to note that forgiving others is not what gets God to forgive us. Salvation is not conditioned on our forgiving others, but on God’s having loved and forgiven us. And if we are loved and forgiven by God, we WILL love and forgive all others. Our forgiveness of others is the fruit of God’s having forgiven us. “…every tree is known by his own fruit..” (Lk. 6:44). The Christian must forgive, the Christian should forgive, the Christian WILL forgive and the true Christian DOES forgive! Jesus said: “If a man love Me, he will keep My words…He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings…” (Jn. 14:23,24). How you live your life is the evidence that reveals exactly who commands it: you or God.

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