Forgiveness, probably the hardest word to deal with as a Christian. I love the word and dislike the word, depending on where I stand. Sounds like a passive thing but it is a very active verb. What is forgiveness and what does it take to get some? Hey, you always wanted to know that someone would forgive you when you do something wrong, correct? God's forgiveness works in a similar way. He can forgive you if you ask for it. You simply have to want it. But then, two questions loom in front of me:
1) Will God forgive me if someone else does not?
2) Is it possible to be forgiven by God if I won't forgive someone else?
Question number one: Will God forgive me if someone else does not?
There are many who live with the knowledge that someone in their life has not forgiven them. Sometimes, if we are the ones who have not been forgiven, we feel the burden of the guilt that surrounds us. It can affect our whole lives for years. All because a family member or friend cannot or will not find it in their hearts to let us off the hook. Somehow, we need to know that they have absolved us from whatever crime or perceived crime was committed.
(Phillipians 4:7) And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
In reality, what we actually need is to go to the Lord Jesus and ask to be forgiven from Him. Then forgive yourself. The peace that passes all understanding comes when you know that you are forgiven of God. This peace may feel as though it comes at a high price at first, but when resolved, is a fantastic thing. The worries of the situation go away.
But what about the friend or family member that holds on to the unforgiveness concerning you? I have learned that you must confront that person, ask the forgiveness that you feel you need for the act in question. If that person will not give in, then it becomes a matter between them and God. It no longer has to do with you because you have done your part by confronting the situation. The ball is now in their court, so to speak.
Question number two: Is it possible to be forgiven by God if I won't forgive someone else?
The other question refers to you not forgiving someone else who has done something you think is so wrong that they should not have the peace of release from the crime or wrongdoing. Can you expect to be forgiven by God if you will not or cannot let loose of the hurt that the other person caused you?
(Mark 11:25-26) And when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive it so that also your Father in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses.
It seems so satisfying to hold onto that hurt that they inflicted a little longer, doesn't it? Because then, they cannot have the peace since you won't give it to them. Just sort of enjoying that idea that they should get what they have coming to them. Maybe it isn't enjoyment but more llike torment. Those feelings about that person and what they did just will not go away. You hate that but you simply will not let it go. Seems almost like you can't let go of the memories.
There's a problem with that. God does not allow unforgiveness to continue around Him. So, the person who will not let go of the hurts, won't give up the hatred that comes with it, is unforgiven by the Lord.
"What? That's not fair!! I didn't do anything wrong. That so-called friend did the wrong to me and that friend is NOT getting my forgiveness, ever! That means they get away with what the did. I can't allow that! No way!"
Sound like something you thought? Close enough to things you thought or voiced? Not surprising. A lot of unforgiveness is in the world. Just look around you. People hate people everywhere. Not hate? Look again. You hated it that someone hurt you like that. You want the revenge that goes with that.
However, as Christians, we have an obligation! Why? Take a look again at Mark 11:26 above. The scripture states that god will not, I said WILL NOT, forgive yo if you will not do the same for another individual.
The scripture here is a full parable so it's long but well worth the read if you want to understand forgiveness of a king:
(Matthew 18:23-35) Therefore the kingdom of Heaven has been compared to a certain king who desired to make an accounting with his servants. And when he had begun to count, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he had nothing to pay, his lord commanded that he, and his wife and children, and all that he had, be sold, and payment be made. Then the servant fell down and worshiped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me and I will pay you all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.
But the same servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. And he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me what you owe. And his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, Have patience with me and I will pay you all. And he would not, but went and cast him into prison until he should pay the debt.
So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were very sorry. And they came and told their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after he had called him, said to him, O wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have pitied your fellow servant, even as I had pity on you? And his lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors until he should pay all that was due to him.
So likewise shall My heavenly Father do also to you, unless each one of you from your hearts forgive his brother their trespasses.
This makes unforgiveness pretty serious. Do you want to live a life of unforgiveness, especially after you have given your life to the Lord? If you do that, God will not be able to forgive you. Do not allow yourself to be as an unbeliever, holding on to all the hurts each has done to you. Please, won't you consider this. Your lack of forgiveness does not affect the other person spiritually at all.
What?? Well, you may be able to make the person miserable around you but you cannot control how that person sees God or God sees them. Do you see this? You cannot and are not controlling whether they are forgiven or not. That's what that was about, right? Control? You do have some. You are in control of YOUR standing with God.
For every moment that is in unforgiveness toward someone else, that is the amount of time you are not forgiven by God. That puts another light on it, doesn't it?
Isn't it time to lay the hurt aside? Isn't it time to get back to a right standing with God? After all, He waits for you, the lost sheep, to be brought back to the fold. God is so merciful. He continues to forgive each of us each time we do something wrong especially when we aer willing to let go of those things we could not forgive in someone else.
Take a moment and examine yourself to see if there is any hurt that you could not forgive before this. If there is, let go of that and forgive that person who has trespassed against you. When you do, often it feels as thought the weight of the world has lifted. And that makes for a brighter day!!