By Marni Montanez
New International Version (NIV)
15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Well that sounds rather extreme. Whatís up with that? A merciful, loving God wonít forgive if we donít forgive. Sounds very conditionalÖ..or does it? No it is not. We are talking about a God who yearns to forgive us. He wanted to forgive us so much that in order to do this He sent His one and only perfect, sinless Son so that He would take everything on that was evil about us and replace it with the Fatherís forgiveness. There is no question that God desires only to knock down any walls between us. Isnít that what He did? When He allowed His Son, Jesus to take our sin, He was knocking down walls that had prevented us from getting close to Him. Even when Jesus died, the temple curtain that separated us from the holy of holies was torn from top to bottom. The veil was removed in order for us to have complete access to Godís love, Godís presence and His forgiveness. But why canít He forgive us if we donít forgive? Our un-forgiveness builds our own wall. He is a God of forgiveness; that is His nature so if we donít forgive just like if we arenít being loving we are in essence preventing His forgiveness from getting through; That is in addition to our hearts being hardened and our wall becoming thicker. In our decision not to forgive we are hindering our connection and our walk with a holy and forgiving God. Godís forgiveness flows like pure water, but if our hearts are full of sewage, then His waters cannot mingle with ours. Thatís just like holiness. He is a holy God who cannot and will not be in the midst of sin. Sin and darkness dies in His presence of purity and light. They cannot interact.
Un-forgiveness is a heavy weight or chain we choose to put on around our neck. This is bondage. I have heard it said that forgiveness is not for the other person. It is for us. In some ways I agree with this interpretation. Our freedom is found in forgiveness because forgiveness is letting go of the burden we place upon ourselves. If we don't forgive we are blocking the way for God to reach out to us with His grace. I also believe forgiveness is for the other person in that it brings restoration to a relationship or at least it easies the discomfort of being around that person who wronged us. The bible says we have to forgive, but nowhere does it say we have to have them as a close person in our life or we have to hang out with them. Once we forgive we are letting go of anger, bitterness, resentment that began with the offense and festers sometimes to the point of causing emotional infection and eventually affecting our bodies. Forgiveness is freedom for us and through the spiritual realm, freedom for the other person. As you forgive them and let it go you are trusting God to defend you and indeed He will. It may not look like what we think, but God knows just how to bring justice to our cause.
Challenge: Go before the Lord and release the anger, bitterness, and resentment caused by un-forgiveness. Set yourself free.
The purpose of this series is to encourage people to live as loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God: Jesus tells us to pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10) God tells us through Micah (6:8), "He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God." And we know from Revelation 21:4 that there will be no more mourning, or crying, or pain, or death. Thus, Christian living requires us to set the standards of these conditions here on earth for our fellow human beings, and for the other animals, as a witness to the rest of the world. To do otherwise is not Christian.