“Let all bitterness, and wrath, be put away from you with all malice; and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you”… looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled”(Ephesians 4:31-32; Hebrews 12:15).
Bitterness is the result of life – not the cause of it. It speaks of the condition of the heart, the state of the mind, the direction of life. Bitterness is the brackish backwater of life that is UNRELEASED. It is the unanswered question, the unhealed wound, the hurt of the mind that never seems to go away. It calls to mind the Old Persian proverb, “When you go to kill your enemy – dig two graves, for both of you will get buried!” Show me a bitter spirit and as a rule, you will find an unforgiving heart.
Forgiveness is to grant free pardon to a person (event or hurtful wrong) and cease to feel resentment toward them”. It is the only way we can answer the unanswered question of ‘WHY’! Forgiveness is a grace of God, a trait that is not natural to man. The complaint we normally have is in the saying, “I just can’t forget it”. Forgiveness does not intend to FORGET the offense. It is the very means by which we learn and grow from it. The very one you forgive today, you may, in turn, be asking their forgiveness tomorrow. Life is not to be forgotten, LIFE IS TO BE LIVED – WITH KINDNESS, A TENDER HEART AND A FORGIVING SPIRIT.
A survivor of the holocaust was asked, “How did you forgive all the heinous crimes that we done against you?” He answered, “There is no way that such can be forgiven, unless you forgave it before it happened.” Paul writes, “Pray without ceasing” How about forgive without ceasing?
What would happen in your life if you could honestly pray “God, I forgive everything that others may do against me now and in my future days – I FORGIVE IT ALL RIGHT NOW! Remember these vital truths that will help you vow such a powerful prayer in your own heart.
THE UNFORGIVER IS UNFORGIVEN.
Jesus said, “If you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly father forgive your (sins) or trespasses (Mathew 6:14). The master condemned his unforgiving servant with these words. “So likewise shall my heavenly father do also unto you, if you, from your hearts, forgive not every one, his brother their sins (transgressions)” (Matthew 18:32-35).
NOTHING TAKES THE PLACE OF FORGIVENESS.
“Let’s just forget it!” “I don’t want to forget it”. “Why don’t you move to another congregation? “I don’t want to move to another church.” “Then I’ll move”. “I don’t want you to move”. “Let’s just ‘bury the hatchet’ (normally you mean between the shoulder blades). “I don’t want to bury the hatchet”. “Let me loan you some money”. “I don’t want to borrow your money!” “Let’s go have a bite of lunch.” “I don’t want to have a bite of lunch.” “Well, tell me, what you want?” “I want you to forgive me!!” Get off this “I’m sorry” business. Get forgiveness and be done with it.
Forgiveness is not an option – it is an absolute necessity. It means self survival and the survival of all who wrong you. Walk in the state of forgiveness and take away the prospect of having a bitter heart.
FORGIVESS IS SPIRITUAL AND TAKES PLACE IN THE HEART.
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2). He specified those who were to forgive. He did not name pastors, or deacons, or ministers, of those appointed to the committee of rehabilitation. Paul specifies, “YE WHICH ARE SPIRITUAL”. Forgiveness is spiritual and takes place in the heart. It cannot be a legal matter, or one written in the minutes of church records. It is a spiritual work, or the work of the Spirit. It isn’t a “kiss and make up deal”. Judas kissed the Lord in the garden. Shaking hands is a friendly gesture but that doesn’t do it. This is a work of the Spirit that is not for hire. Forgiveness demands far more for it involves your heart, the very center of your emotions, feelings and conscience.
The apostle Peter asked, “How often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Until seven times? Jesus denied the single digit answer an invited Peter to do some multiplication. “Not seven times but seventy times seven”. You’ve probably passed that total after just two years of marriage. The number of 490 times is an extreme exaggeration showing the unending nature of the power of forgiveness.
THE UNFORGIVEN ARE HELPLESS.
When you do not forgive, you hold a power over them that is not rightfully yours. God forgives us for “Christ’s sake”. Nine words of Jesus on the cross speaks of those who would follow him, “Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Without the cross and the marvel of his grace we would all be lost.