I was cleaning out my desk the other day and found some notes from a church service. The sermon had been on forgiveness and I found it very helpful. Not that anyone has ever really offended me to the point that I’ve struggled to forgive him or her, but I know it will happen one day. I learned quite a bit from these ideas and hope you can as well.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15
There are few other passages in the Bible that both scare me and make me thankful for the grace of God as does this one. While God gives us the ability and grace to do as He commands through the work of Jesus Christ, the only Man who has obeyed God perfectly, Christians still struggle with unforgiveness. Christians still struggle with laying down their pride and loving others the way Christ loves them. The only way to get beyond this struggle is to face the truth about yourself and present it to God in prayer. You must examine your heart.
Have you forgiven all who have offended you? If not:
- You have anger in your heart when you think of or hear about the offender.
- You wish you could make them pay for their offense.
- You would not care if something bad happened to them.
- You cannot thank God for that person.
When faced with the truth of your unforgiveness, some lies of the enemy may present themselves as excuses:
- It is impossible to forgive them because they hurt you too much.
- They do not deserve forgiveness.
- They should not be “let off the hook."
How to deal with unforgiveness once you’ve recognized it in your heart:
- Confess and repent of your unforgiveness and bitterness.
- Remember and meditate on how Christ forgave you and let that humble your heart.
- Remember that forgiveness isn’t a feeling or emotion but an act of the will.
- Confess your unforgiveness to the one who offended you and make it right with them.
- Return good for the evil they have done to you.
Unforgiveness in your heart is never the fault of the person who has offended you. It is a problem in your heart and must be dealt with in the heart. It stems from the root sin of pride, thinking that your feelings are more important than loving the offender. Thank God that He did not feel that way towards us! He had every right to swallow us up in His wrath, but He chose to pour it out on His Son.