“But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins too. If you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25, 26). Forgiveness is not as easy as it appears. There are so many twists and turns. You may have thought that you had long gotten past a particular hurt or pain, only for it to rear its ugly head through a phone call or a chance encounter with someone you hadn’t seen for years.Your past hurt may have even manifested itself in a innocent visit by an old friend. Tears begin to roll down your cheek or you can feel anger all over again just like you felt when the original hurt first happened.
In God’s way of thinking, forgiving others is the principal activity and heart attitude needed to pave the way for one’s own forgiveness. As long as unforgiveness is present, God’s hand of protection, mercy and restoration is hindered at best and stopped at worst.
What is the definition of true forgiveness? It is the making of a decision – that is a release is granted to the offending person (sometimes it is an organization, or a body of people – more than an individual). When we forgive we choose to set them free. We don’t hold resentment; we don’t hold bitterness; we let go of our plans to “get even.” Moreover, true forgiveness means to grant release from payment (of a debt).
FORGIVENESS IS A REQUIREMENT!
God’s Word clearly spells out His requirement for the saints of God: we are to relate to one another without bitterness, grudges, or anything that puts up a barrier between our brothers and sisters. When it comes to forgiveness, the Word of God is uncompromising and non-negotiable. Forgiveness does not depend on our mood, or even on fairness. God simply tells us repeatedly that we must forgive.
Some of us choose to simply ignore or avoid people. This is also unacceptable to God, because that is not His nature. He doesn’t want us to have coldness toward each other, or to mentally “x” them out. He wants us to have cleaned-up relationships. He permits no “ifs,” “ands,” “buts,” or special situations. No matter what the other person or organization has done, God simply says, “forgive.”
God’s CONSEQENCES OF UNFORGIVENESS IS CERTAIN
If we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us. Knowing that, should be enough for us, knowing that if we don’t forgive, He is not going to forgive us, I am not willing to pay the price of having God not forgive me, of being out from under His protection, or of being turned over to the tormentors. I am willing to do whatever it takes.
How Much Forgiveness is Enough?
As much forgiveness as necessary. Forgiveness must take place as long as there is remaining hate, bitterness, resentment, blame, or a desire for vengeance, or punishment toward a person (Refer to Matthew 18:21, 22).
What Happens after Forgiveness?
There is a misconception about forgiveness, and that is, that once the offender is released, all the pain will automatically leave one’s heart. That is not true. When the offence is forgiven, the healing has only just begun.The person then needs God to come and heal his heart and take away the pain. Another misconception is that forgiveness is limited to being a decision only – over and done with, finished. Although forgiveness is a decision, it is more than an act of deciding. Forgiveness is a process that takes time. The wounded person must do his part in acknowledging unforgiveness (admit that he has unforgiveness in his heart), working through the painful memories, and then reaching the place of forgiveness. There are no shortcuts. Pretending will only sabotage the healing. Forgiveness (releasing) can be a very painful matter.
Have you truly forgiven?