Let me speak to my professing Christian brothers and sisters who are struggling with issues of forgiving.
Can you tell me what is it about forgiveness that causes so much upheaval in your soul? How come you find yourself wrestling and struggling so hard with the notion of having to let someone “off the hook” who has offended you? What is there that is so valuable in getting “your pound of flesh”? Is punishing someone because they have offended you really so rewarding and satisfying? Please, help me understand your pattern of thinking.
I mean, I understand that you profess to be a Christian, meaning you have entrusted your life to Jesus Christ by inviting Him into your heart. I understand He forgave all of your sins and redeemed you back to the Father; rescued you from eternal damnation and separation and gave you the gift of eternal life. I understand that you are “born again”, from above, by the incorruptible seed of the Father and you are a new creation – old things have passed away and behold all things have become new in your life. Is this true?
Well, if so, then tell me why you struggle with giving to someone else that which you received so freely? Wasn’t forgiveness given to you for all of your sins? Yet you say you cannot forgive someone for his or her sin against you? Why is that?
What makes you more worthy to receive forgiveness over your brother or sister in Christ? Are you any better than they are? Have you not also been guilty of hurting others or doing wrongs in the sight of God?
In 1Corinthians 6:9-11 we are told this –
“Don’t you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshipers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, abusers, and swindlers-none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God. There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been washed away, and you have been set apart for God. You have been made right with God because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you.”
Did you get that? At one time in your life you also were not worthy of the Kingdom of God, remember? Have you become so holy and sanctified until you believe you can dictate to the body of Christ who is and who is not worthy to receive forgiveness? Are you suffering from some form of dementia where you cannot remember that it is only a result of God’s divine forgiveness that you are justified by faith in Jesus Christ?
Let me repeat to you what God has told you in Romans 3:21-26 –
“But now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight – not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago. We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times. And he is entirely fair and just in this present time when he declares sinners to be right in his sight because they believe in Jesus.”
How then can you think you have any power or authority to impute righteousness or justification on anyone? Are you God? How can you have the audacity to say to an offender that they are not worthy of forgiveness? Have you lost your mind? Do not forget that you too were a sinner forgiven and redeemed only by the grace of God.
Who has deceived you into thinking you have the right to refuse an offender forgiveness? Who told you that was the will of God for you as a believer? I know it wasn’t the Father; I know it wasn’t the Holy Spirit, and I certainly know it wasn’t Jesus. Therefore, it could only mean that it was the devil himself who darkened the counsel of God in your mind. Do not allow yourself to be duped into his lies. Do not get so puffed up with righteous indignation and resentment toward an offender that you fall out of God’s grace.
You know, there was a great English Poet by the name of Alexander Pope who penned the famous phrase: To err is human, to forgive divine. He had insight into God’s will concerning forgiveness that you need to assent to. That is, humans will err – all the time; it is their nature. But the nature of God is to forgive. God’s will is that you love one another and that you leave no debt outstanding between one another except the continuing debt of love, which you can never repay.
As a Christian, a born-again redeemed believer in Jesus Christ, this should be your pulse. Like your physical pulse reflects the rhythmic beating of your physical heart, love should reflect the rhythmic beating of your spirit. If you profess to be a Christian, your walk must be in accordance with God’s will, which exemplifies his divine character. That character is love.
You owe it to your Christian brothers and sisters, seventy-times-seven, to forgive them when they offend you. God demands it of you. He is so emphatic about the command that he reminds you in Matthew 6:14-15 –
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Therefore, stop struggling with granting forgiveness. Rise above your carnal desires and honor God. Let the fruit of your redemption be exemplified in the way you trust him and follow his righteous commands. Stop playing the part of a Christian and start being the Christian. Ask God to give you grace to walk in his wisdom; ask God to search your heart for anything that is not clean and to purge it from you. Do not be a fool and despise the wisdom and instruction of God.
Always remember this: Christians are forgiving people because they have been forgiven.