Forgiveness is one of the central themes in the Bible. Every born-again believer begins his walk with Christ from the day he receives forgiveness i.e. our life in Christ begins after we are forgiven by Him.
Therefore, as we have been forgiven unconditionally by our Heavenly Father, we too should be willing to forgive others unconditionally. Forgiveness is like a river that is powered by Grace. So, when you receive it, be willing to offer it to others, so that, we can receive even more Grace from Heaven.
In the Bible we could find Jesus Christ repeatedly stressing the importance of forgiveness in almost all of His teachings and, of course, we are very familiar with them; and most of us do have the desire to practice it as He taught us. However, it is not that easy.
In real life, no matter how spiritual we are, we still find it hard to genuinely forgive others. The LORD reminds us many times throughout the scriptures, especially in the New Testament that, we should be willing to forgive others when it is really necessary. Not only that, even receiving God’s forgiveness in our lives is directly linked to us forgiving others. See, what the Lord Jesus taught us:
Recently, I was discussing about the importance of obeying God’s commandments with a believer and she commented;
“oh, it is easy to keep the Moses’ Laws in the Old Testament but it is almost impossible to follow most of the teachings of Jesus Christ”. I thought about her comment for a while and then realized, yes, what she said is, really true to a great extent. If we ask ourselves honestly “How many of Jesus’ teachings do we really follow? Let us take the one below as an example for what she said:
19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.(Mathew 6, 19-20)
Saints, now think about the above verses for a minute and answer honestly; where do you really wish to store up your treasures, is it in Heaven or on Earth? Surely it is on Earth; that is your desire for sure. Because, you want to have all your treasures around you, so that you and your children can enjoy them.
I don’t think any Christian on the face of the Earth is willing to follow the above instruction whole-heartedly. Anyway, I don’t blame you, it is really difficult to put this command into practice.
Saints, please remember: Jesus Christ did not crack any jokes during His sermons, neither did he give instructions to his disciples for fun. When he said something, He did mean it from the bottom of His heart and He wanted His followers to put them into practice.
Moreover, whatever he preached he also practiced. A classic example of this is the above-mentioned instruction which Jesus Christ Himself practiced.
20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Mathew 6, 20)
Did Jesus have any treasures on earth while He lived? Did He store up any wealth like the modern Christian leaders? NO! He had nothing; No Money, No Possessions! He practiced what He preached. Amen.
HE didn’t even have a place to lay HIS head.
Yes, the above verse gives us a clear picture of HIS possessions on the face of the earth; please meditate on the above verse for a minute, I am sure you will be blessed.
So, as I said earlier, the above instruction in Mathew 6, 20 comes under the category of instructions that are really difficult for contemporary Christians to practice.
Well, I digressed a bit; let me return to the main topic – “forgiveness”. This is also another difficult command of Jesus Christ that most of the “born-again believers” struggle to follow in their Christian Walk.
In this modern age, if we look around us, whether within the church or outside the church, we could find a lot of people who are wounded both in their soul and spirit. However, my focus in this article is the – born-again believers – the people within the church”.
Frankly speaking, there is no one in this world who have not experienced any hurts in their entire life. At some point in our lives we do experience hurts from others and sometimes these hurts take a long time to get healed.
Most of the people who get saved often become part of the church while still having these wounds within themselves. But, some, receive instant healing from every type of infirmity in their body, soul and spirit. However, for majority of believers, it takes a long time to get complete healing from those wounds in their Soul and Spirit.
But there is a problem with this latter category of believers; that is; the chances of them hurting others or causing wounds in others through their words or actions will be high and also their capacity to help others to get healed also will be very little.
I think, mature believers within the church should be sensitive enough, so that, they could recognize these types of believers and lead them to complete healing.
Saints, please remember, when you get hurt by a fellow believer with in the congregation, don’t immediately try to get even with that individual by fighting back. This should not be your immediate response.
In this situation what you need to understand is; the person who hurt you is wounded within and those wounds are prompting this individual to wound others. Unfortunately, the offender and the offended do not realize this fact.
So, in a situation like this How would you respond as a mature believer? Would you still respond in the same token or you will decide to stay calm and pray for that individual?
My advice would be; instead of causing more wounds through a quick immature response you should forgive and pray for him/her, so that the LORD Almighty can help you deal with this particular person in a judicious manner; in a way that brings Glory to HIS Name.
However, instead of forgiving, if you respond in a revengeful manner, that is going to cause more wounds for both the parties; instead of bringing a complete healing.
By adopting an unforgiving attitude, we open doors for an unforgiving spirit to occupy our hearts and it comes in and set in motion a chain of harmful responses that would destroy the peace of not just you but of many people around you.
So, what is the best way to keep ourselves free from wounds? It is by forgiving those who sin against us. Forgiveness is one of the best Medicines to keep our hearts healthy and peaceful, which in turn will help our body to be healthy too.
Saints, most of the people within the church who wound others are the ones who already have enough wounds within their own hearts. If your heart is free from wounds you wouldn’t hurt others, because, there are no wounds within you to pass on to others.
The LORD Almighty knows our Soul and Spirit better than we know. He knows very well what kind of destruction an unforgiving spirit can cause within an individual and the people around him or her. That is why He says:
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6: 14-15)
Saints, forgiving others not only brings healing up on our souls but also it opens door for us to receive God’s forgiveness in our own life. Besides, it also helps us to manifest the character of God in our lives and thereby becoming an instrument of God Almighty that brings glory to HIS Holy Name. See the verses below:
44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.( Mathew 5, 44-48).
Yes, as He instructed, if we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, that is going to bring showers of blessings in our lives. When we are able to do as He says, we are going to be called the Children of the “Most High God”. We are going to be perfect in His eyes.
Well, so far, I have been focusing on the responsibility of the offended and spoke very little about the offender. Next let me write a few lines about the responsibility of the offender.
Just as the offended has the responsibility to forgive, the offender also has the responsibility to ask for forgiveness. The process of forgiving someone reaches completion only when the Offender asks the offended to forgive him/her.
If You, offend or hurt someone willfully and act as if nothing has happened, or you try to push your offense under the carpet by thinking “everything is going to be alright” that is not a behaviour fitting for a born-again Bible believing Christian.
If you have offended someone, you should be courageous enough to admit your wrong-doing and ask for forgiveness. When you ask for forgiveness to the offended you open the door for that individual to offer you forgiveness.
Please remember; the act of “forgiving” someone is not a “one-way traffic” affair. It involves two parties; both the offender and the offended. Let us look at what The Lord taught His disciples about the importance of asking for forgiveness:
3So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister a sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”(Luke 17, 3-4)
Yes, the above verses make it crystal clear that both the parties should be genuinely involved in the process. So that, both of them can experience genuine healing in their hearts.
My Special Advice for the Offended.
You, as the one who feel offended should be willing to forgive genuinely and once you have forgiven someone from the bottom of your heart, you should close that chapter once and for all. You should not recall or discuss about them in the future.
The whole incident took place in the past and you should leave it there. When you bring them into your present life you are breathing life into that incident, it becomes alive again and might lead to further distress and pain in you. So, once you forgive, please forget it forever.
Remember, we live in a fallen world. So, let us:
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV)
Don’t try to get EVEN with an Evil World.