Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
In the Book of Matthew, we find Peter asking Jesus how many times should he forgive. Jesus gives him an answer and proceeds to talk about a story regarding a man who owes so much money that he is unable to pay him back. The master then told the servant that he, his wife, and his children would be sold in order to compensate for the loss. When the servant begged and pleaded for this mercy upon himself and his family, the master showed him pity, mercy, and forgave his debt and now the servant and his family were free to go. But in the blink of an eye, the servant then turns around and demands money from another servant as if he is the master. The servant tried to extort the money from the other servant. The other servants went back to the master and told him what was taken place. Despite the mercy the servant was given, he quickly forgot the blessing that the master had given him. So master took the servant to the jailers and he once again became indebted and would remain there until the debt is paid.
When we think about forgiveness today, we think about how we are on the losing end of a conflict. It is bad enough that a large part of our society doesn’t know what forgiveness is, but that
There are many Christians that not only misunderstand what forgiveness is, but as quick as one can fully understand it, forgiveness will go out of our own minds because of all the anger and rage that comes with the conflict. For many of us the deeper the pain, the longer it is to recover. Forgiveness can be difficult because of the first questions we ask when we feel hurt is “Why?” Why would anyone do any type of harm to us? What did we do to anyone else to deserve such pain? How can we get over and through this episode in our life? And finally, how can we look at the person or people that did so much damage to who we are? If we can’t answer these questions, then we can’t move on. And we shouldn’t move on if we plant a seed of an unnecessary burden of hate and anger. We stop ourselves from growing because we simply can’t move forward, we can’t move on, however, nobody said that it would be easy to move on from a traumatic event.
While we can all discuss the downside of forgiveness, we forget how forgiveness can be favor us. Forgiveness allows us to be free and focused on the mission at hand, our experience in forgiveness can help others overcome their unforgiving nature. Forgiveness relieves us of an emotional weight that no man should have to carry or bare for to not forgive is to drag you down like quicksand, the more you move, likely it is to weigh you down until you can no longer carry it and then you will fall apart. To show forgiveness is to show God, and that is a benefit. So, what other benefits can forgiveness show? It has many but I have three.
Forgiveness shows Obedience
As Pastor spoke from the subject of forgiveness a few weeks ago, the scripture was Matthew 6:14, which says;
“ For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
God asks of us that every time we are wrong by someone that we should forgive them. And we should because every time we sin and fall short of the glory of God, we ask for God’s forgiveness. But imagine if you could for a second what our world would look like if we served a God that didn’t forgive, what would that look like? What would we look like? We would be so scared that to take our marching orders from God to the point where we wouldn’t be able to accomplish the individual missions that have he has set forth for us to carry out. Then, we would be punished by God for not carrying out the Mandate. To bring this to us, how can we carry out God’s will, for a forgiving God, if our mind and hearts are clouded by the will to have an unforgiving spirit? I’m sure there was a time in your life where someone has hurt you. Instead of trying to forgive them, even when they said “I’m sorry”, even when they said they truly meant it, you still chose not to forgive them, how do you think this will affect you?
For starters, you are carrying around the burden of hate and anger, you can’t focus on your mandate. You can’t focus on what God has chosen you to do. Second, your unwillingness to forgive is nothing short of a virus that will in turn affect the people around you and your relationship with them which in turn could affect their own situations in a negative manner and so on and so forth. You won’t recognize the destruction that “unforgiveness” has caused until you “choose” to start the process of forgiveness. Now, remember the word I just said, choose. If you “choose” to forgive, then you’re “choosing” to obey God. If you “choose” not to forgive, then you are “choosing” not to obey God. And if obedience is better than sacrifice, then to disobey is to go against God’s will. God already knows that there will be challenges that you think are impossible and not all of our challenges are physical. You want to be empty so that only God can fill you up. But if you are already filled with things such as the spirit of unforgiveness, then you can never move forward in the fullness of God and with that said, you are not obeying the will of God.
When I left the Navy in July 2005, the first thing I did was went back to Jacksonville, Florida. I went back to a home where my parents have been divorced for a few years. I didn’t tell anyone I was coming back home so nobody was prepared for that. Within a period of 9 months, I got into one physical and one verbal fight with my brother. After the second time, my mom kicked me out (again) and for at least one night I slept in my car. My anger for how my mom treated me just grew; we never discussed it at all. I moved later to Woodbridge, Virginia where about a few months in, I got a phone call from people asking where I was including my own mom. It wasn’t the first phone call we had but the second phone call that allowed me to unleash everything. I had at the time an unforgiving spirit because of what happened in the household, my anger would not let me forgive no matter how petty the issues were. But, while we were arguing over the phone, she did manage to utter two words “I’m Sorry”. I might have been upset in that conversation, but those words meant everything. I couldn’t honor my mother as “Exodus 20:12” said because I wasn’t willing to forgive. Forgiveness is a command by God. Find what is in your life and let it go. To not let it go, is to not obey God.
Forgiveness shows Growth
Obeying God is one of our primary directives when walking with the Lord. That however is easy. You see, it’s one thing to obey the Lord when you are told too and another thing when it’s easy. But how many of us can obey the Lord when it makes us feel uncomfortable. We take for granted far too often one the grace God shows us when we have done him wrong. But constantly when we sin, we are going back to the same God that we don’t love nor appreciate.
Just how long does one expect to receive mercy under these circumstances? How can anyone expect to builder a closer relationship with God if they are unwilling to stop sinful actions? God wants us to be closer to him, not farther away. God also wants us to grow. When we obey God, we Grow. We shed the things of the world that no longer affect us in pursuing Christ. The continuing of obeying God not only makes God joyful but in turn will make those who obey joyful because of the blessing that God had for them. As Psalm 1:1-3 says,
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers
The only ones that benefit from you not being forgiving, is those that have delight in chaos and destruction. The only person that suffers from not forgiving and having to courage to stand on God’s word and the willingness to forgive is you. You will not grow in this state. To grow in forgiveness is to not follow everyone else. To grow in Christ is to have faith that you forgiving others for hurting you will in turn make you a better person. Sometimes, forgiveness isn’t about the other person, sometimes it’s about forgiving yourself. When you choose not to forgive, you stunt your growth from knowing and obeying God. Also, it will stop you from mending relationship, not with the people who have harmed you but with the people who are trying to help you. Growth is a sign of maturity and to be mature is to gain wisdom. If you are unwilling to forgive, then you are unwilling to grow.
Forgiveness shows Freedom
To have forgiveness is to have freedom, but to have unforgiveness is to have be in bondage. Nobody wants to become their own prisoner. But when you are unforgiving, that’s is exactly what you are, a prisoner. As Christians, we have a lot to master in order to grow closer to God. But God doesn’t want us to be in bondage because he sent his son, Jesus, so that we could understand what true freedom is. In the book of Ephesians, one of Paul’s goals was to bring the body together. But in order to bring the body together, the body must be united. The body however cannot be truly united unless one, we are willing to give up the things of this world and two, we are willing to give up the cares of what living is and be willing to submit of a life with Christ.
In the 31st and 32nd verses of the fourth chapter of Ephesians, Paul gives instructions on how to live a Christian life. This lifestyle requires getting rid of all the negative and embracing all of the positive. Paul stated in the letter;
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”
Forgiveness is the opposite of the things that Paul mentions in this chapter. If you are unforgiving, carry around bitterness like a chronic illness. You will carry rage and anger like weapon with a bloodlust for destruction and chaos. You will carry around brawling and slander as if you are look to destroy lives, hurt others, and not care who you harm in the process, not even a loved one. The question for those of us who are unforgiving is this; why are we so unwilling to let pain go? Why are we so much more interested in holding onto the negative instead of embracing the positive? There is no freedom for an unforgiving soul and there is no point in claiming that you “follow the teachings of Christ” if you are doing the exact opposite of what Jesus was teaching.
Jesus teachings were designed to make believers uncomfortable and there is no point in claiming that you “follow the teachings of Christ” if you are doing the exact opposite of what Jesus was teaching. Jesus teachings were designed to make believers uncomfortable in order to affirm their beliefs in the Gospel. You had to let go of everything to invoke the fullness of God. What matters hear is how much do you love Christ? How much do you love God? Do you love them enough to shed away your pride, anger, and ego to serve God in a worthy and holy manner? The Lord wants all of YOU to serve; mind, body, and spirit. If you unwilling to forgive then you are unwilling to serve God. When you commit to Christ, you commit to the way, the truth, and the light. God has the freedom to let us live or take us away despite our action. And in sending his on Jesus, who died on the cross, we always have the opportunity to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness is a part of the good news and in that forgiveness, that very action where you let everything that has ever hurt you, hindered you, or stopped you from growing, when you allow it to be released and giving to God, like a slave who longs to be bound by chains no more, you a can scream “I AM FREE!!!”. Everything for you changes, forgiveness sets you free.
Forgiving is essential to our walk with Christ. We were not designed to carrying unnecessary burden. As the saying goes “God will never put something on you that you cannot bare, but rest assured you can always put something on you cannot bare”. We cannot afford to be bogged down by the cares of the world and we certainly cannot carry it with us. Every time we have been wronged, we must choose to forgive them and every time we do wrong, we must ask for forgiveness. Christ does not ask much of us. The problem is many of us have not made the time to make room for Christ in our lives. And because of this, we have not learned the true power of forgiveness. We are on assignment to reflect the love of Christ. Regardless of the tragedies that happen, we must always be in a position to forgive. Showing forgiveness is the exact opposite of what your enemy wants and expects from you. We know that when we fight fire with fire it only creates more fire. Two wrong have never made a right and it stops a wound from permanently healing. If your eyes are on Christ, then you will understand the importance of forgiving and if you are walking with Christ, then there is no need for you to seek revenge for forgiveness has filled that void.
So, when you forgive, you are obeying God’s word. As you continue to forgive, you grow in Christ, and when forgiveness allows you to know longer be bothered by anything or anyone, you have be set free.