By Dennis Allman
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF FORGIVENESS
We struggle more with our personal feelings, than with anything else in life, Why? Because our feelings affect us deeply For this very reason, God gave us instructions concerning our emotions and how we are to respond to those around us.
“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a
quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Colossians 3; 12-13).
Love is the foundation stone for all the “one anothers” of the Bible, Love is the key to happiness and spiritual maturity in Jesus Christ. Before we can forgive one another, we must love one another.
Forgiving means to deliver, to release, to pardon, to put aside, or to disregard. Jesus taught that forgiveness is a duty and that no limit can be set on the extent of forgiveness: it must be granted without
reserve. An unforgiving spirit is one of the most heinous sins
Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times” (Matthew 18:21)? Jesus replied, “I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven ”
Jesus went on to tell a parable concerning the unmerciful servant. The servant owed the king a debt he could never repay, yet the servant was forgiven of the debt. That same servant did not show mercy or a
forgiving spirit to a fellow servant. He unmercifully applied pressure on his fellow servant to pay a small debt. His unforgiving. unmerciful spirit brought the swift wrath of his master.
Jesus made the practical application of this parable: “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses”. To be unforgiving is to be in contempt of the Law of God. Shall we put ourselves in jeopardy of eternal judgment because we are unforgiving?
“Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee,
saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him (Luke 17:3-4)
The responsibility of forgiveness is a mutual responsibility. The burden of forgiveness rests upon the offender as well as the person offended. Forgiveness is the will of God and is not optional.
THE RESULTS OF FORGIVENESS
Read the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:16-32. Note the prodigal’s mischief, moral bankruptcy, insanity, his return to his father and the complaint of his brother. An unforgiving heart will
produce: bitterness, revenge, hatred, and resentment.
When you think of it, why should anyone forgive? Why shouldn’t the person who has wronged you be forced to make things right? Why shouldn’t he be punished?
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Forgiveness is in the plan of
God! We are instructed, “to forgive, even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Colossians 3:13).
Forgiveness seems too easy. There should be blood for blood, wound for wound. Someone ought to pay, But the Lord said forgive one another”
In many cases, making things right is impossible. Repayment is impossible. The spirit of revenge whispers, “If you cannot get payment or restitution at least you can get revenge”. Revenge, is the most
worthless weapon in the world. Revenge only hurts the revenger. What does it cost to incubate hatred? lt will cause a man to lose friends; a merchant to lose customers; a doctor to lose patients; an attorney to
lose clients; a pastor to lose saints; and saints to lose their souls.
What about peaceful co-existence? I won’t hate him, hit him, or hurt him; I’ll just ignore him, I’LL live and let live. Friendship? Forget it. That is not forgiveness! That is unsettled hurt, that smolders until someone fans the coals
George Herbert wrote, “He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven; for everyone has need to be forgiven,”
There is not forgiveness in the cheap little game of looking the other way when a wrong is done. Forgiveness never overlooks or winks at sin. It does not make light of wrong, forgiveness is not mere politeness, tact, or diplomacy; nor is it just forgetting. How often have you been told to “forget and forgive”? The more you tried to forget; the better your memory was. Forgetting is the result of complete forgiveness; it is never the means. The way to total forgiveness is understanding and the willingness to give of one’s own self.
FORGIVENESS IS RARE BECAUSE IT IS HARD
True forgiveness is the hardest mountain to climb and the roughest river to cross. When a betrayed trust or a fractured friendship stings us, we want to hold the grudge close, to rush to our own rescue, to
defend ourselves to the last word, and to pin the blame where it is due! But forgiveness denies the self that demands its rights. Instead, it chooses to hurt and suffer. And one of the hardest voluntary
choices a man can make is to accept undeserved suffering.
FORGIVENESS IS HARD BECAUSE IT IS COSTLY
If I break a priceless and treasured heirloom and you forgive me, you bear the loss and I go free. Suppose I ruin your reputation. To forgive me, you must freely accept the consequences of my sin and let
me go free. In forgiveness, you bear your own anger and wrath, voluntarily accepting responsibility for the hurt that has been inflicted upon you. “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God” (1 Peter 2:19-20).
Forgiving one another is still God’s plan or the church. Forgiving one another is not optional, but rather a commandment of the Lord. Jesus said, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Colossians 3:13).
He who walks close to God leaves no room for anything to come between.
(The above material was published by the INDIANA APOSTOLIC TRUMPET, March 1986)
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