This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart. Matthew 18:35
Forgiveness is a serious matter to our Heavenly Father. It is so significant that He gave His only son, Jesus, on a cruel Cross as forgiveness for our sins. Forgiveness wipes clean a debt that was humanly impossible to pay: only the sinless One can forgive sin. Because of God’s monumental mercy on us, He expects us to extend this unconditional grace to our offenders. Gratitude has a long memory of His great grace. We forgive freely because God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven us!
Our heartfelt forgiveness gives us freedom. It frees us to be who God wants us to be. Forgiveness frees us from the need to pay back or heap guilt and condemnation on the one who hurt us. When we let go of anger, even bitterness, our emotional energy is free to comfort and care for the needs of other searching souls. A heart bound up in its own hurt cannot even care for itself. Indeed, forgiveness shifts our focus from the idol of self pity to the praise of God’s mercy.
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
You sin when you chose not to forgive. Furthermore, your fellowship with your Heavenly Father is stifled without your heartfelt forgiveness. Your intimacy erodes without the clean slate of forgiveness from Christ. So, how can you know if you have truly forgiven someone who has hurt, even violated you? You begin to bless them instead of curse them. You talk well about them behind their back. You pray for them to grow in God’s grace. Forgiveness frees you to love well.
There is a risk involved in your heartfelt forgiveness. Your offender may continue their disrespectful, potentially harmful behavior. They may take advantage of your goodwill. Your forgiveness is no guarantee they will change, but you will change. Christ will conform you into His work of grace, mercy and love. God will deal with the unruly ones in His timing. Their conscience is the Holy Spirit’s auditor who will bring them into account. Your heartfelt forgiveness reveals God’s heart.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
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