Pastor David Hartgrove, Crossroads Cathedral, Assembly of God, Centralia
If you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord then you understand what forgiveness is all about. You understand that Jesus died in your place and you have received forgiveness of sins present, past and future. Not that we have license to sin once we begin our journey of faith in Christ Jesus, but rather we trust in Christ that even when we do sin we can find forgiveness if we only confess our sins with an attitude of repentance toward God and faith in the atoning blood of Christ. Yet, upon occasion, we find ourselves bound by an attitude of unforgiveness. When we have been forgiven so greatly by God through His Son, Jesus Christ, how is it possible that we find ourselves ensnared in our heart and mind with an unforgiving spirit toward some other person or persons?
Jesus even put an addendum on what we call “The Lord’s prayer” in Matthew 6:14 and 15, where He gave a warning to all who would be unwilling to forgive others who had sinned against them. There Jesus tells us that if we are unwilling to forgive others, that our Heavenly Father would be unwilling to forgive us. Of course, only God knows everyone’s heart and only God would know if we were unwilling to forgive someone. Some persons may not take these verses seriously but I do not believe that our Lord ever wasted his words. Considering these words and these verses, we may need to examine our hearts and ask God and ask ourselves, “ Is unforgiveness blocking answers to my prayers?”
Now certainly most of us would know if we had allowed unforgiveness to take root in our hearts and minds. But it would still be good to take a spiritual inventory. For example, does a certain name of someone bring thoughts of anger, bitterness or hatred to our heart and mind? Apparently Peter was struggling
with the issue of forgiveness when he asked Jesus how many times he should forgive the same transgressor. Jesus gave Peter a quite unexpected number of 490 times. Peter may have felt used or abused by someone and there will be times that we will feel that way and be tempted to withhold forgiveness.
Let me be clear that while we are to forgive for our own spiritual and mental clarity and to stay in right standing with God, God will also help us to know when to set boundaries and use wisdom toward those who persist in offending us.
If Jesus forgave the very ones who nailed Him to the cross from His cross, then God will help us to forgive all who have sinned against us. Is forgiveness always easy? No, but viewing from an eternal perspective, it is worth it! Does it happen instantly? Not always, but God will walk with us through the process until we can declare without a doubt, “ I am forgiven, therefore, I forgive!”