I know this might be a sore point for some of us, but this morning I want to talk about Forgiveness. First, realize it is not just a one-time act, but instead, a way of life; a way of life meant to bring us into every blessing in Christ. “I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike” (Matthew 5:44-45).
Sure that is tough, but according to Jesus, forgiveness is not a matter of picking or choosing whom we would forgive. We can’t say, “You’ve hurt me too much, so I’m not forgiving you.” Christ tells us, “If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that” (Matthew 5:46-47).
It doesn’t matter who our grudge might be against. If we hold onto it, it is going to lead to bitterness that poisons every aspect of our lives. Unforgiveness brings on spiritual famine, weakness, and a loss of faith, afflicting not just us, but everyone in our circle.
No, this is not easy, but I have seen terrible devastation happen in the lives of those who withheld forgiveness. I have seen people so bitter and resentful and most people don’t even want to be around them. Yet, I have also seen the glorious power of a forgiving spirit. Forgiveness transforms lives, causing the windows of heaven to open. It fills our cup of spiritual blessing to the brim with abundant peace, joy and rest in the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ teaching on this subject is very specific, and if you want to move in this wonderful realm of blessing, then you must heed and embrace his words.
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But [now listen] if you refuse to forgive others, your Father won’t forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15). Read that again . . . He will NOT forgive you! That’s scary. Yehoveh isn’t making a bargain with us here. He is not saying, “Because you have forgiven others, I will forgive you.” We can never earn His forgiveness. Only the shed blood of Christ merits forgiveness of sin. In essence, He is saying that when we forgive others, we will be able to receive His forgiveness . . .
Christ is saying that full confession of sin requires that you forgive others. If you hold on to any unforgiveness, then you haven’t confessed all your sins. True repentance means confessing and forsaking every grudge, crucifying every trace of bitterness toward others. Anything less isn’t repentance.
This goes hand in hand with his Beatitude: “God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7). His point: Forgive others, so you can move in to the blessings and joy of sonship. God can then pour on tokens of his love. And when you forgive, you are revealing the Father’s nature to the world.