Monday, January 7th, 2019
One thing I’ve learned in my 35-or-so years of ministry is that any time you talk about forgiveness, it resonates with almost everyone because we all need to forgive, and it’s really hard to do sometimes!
I want to explain why you can’t afford not to forgive. I will give you five very good reasons why it is to your benefit to forgive others. Whether it’s a small thing you need to forgive or some traumatic hurt that has left deep scars, you cannot afford not to forgive.
Here’s reason number one: If you don’t forgive, God won’t forgive you.
Here’s what Jesus said about forgiveness:
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)
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:37-38)
These words are serious! Consider exactly what Jesus is telling us.
First of all, the forgiveness we receive from God is dependent on the forgiveness we give to others. If we forgive, we will be forgiven. Conversely, if we do not forgive people that have wronged us, we will not be forgiven by our Heavenly Father. I don’t know how to expand or explain that any further. If we forgive, we’ll be forgiven; if we don’t, we won’t!
The passage from Luke tells us that our generosity in forgiving determines the generosity with which we will be forgiven. If we dish out our forgiveness sparingly—with a small measure—then that’s how it will be dished out to us.
Now, how important is it to you to be freely forgiven by God? How much do you need his forgiveness? Can you run the risk of not being forgiven regularly by the Lord? When you look at it that way, then a decision on your part to learn to forgive is the only sensible thing to do. You—and I—truly cannot afford not to forgive when you look at it that way.
Tuesday, January 8th, 2019
Did you ever think about this: “The person who gains the most from forgiveness is the person who does the forgiving”? I’m giving you five reasons why you can’t afford not to forgive. We’ve looked at what Jesus said: If you don’t forgive, you won’t be forgiven. That certainly is reason number one. We need God’s forgiveness every day of our lives. Therefore, we can’t afford not to forgive.
Here’s reason number two: If you don’t forgive, you will become bitter, and bitterness will destroy you.
In his excellent book entitled Total Forgiveness, R. T. Kendall says that “bitterness is an excessive desire for vengeance that comes from deep resentment. It heads the list of the things that grieve the Spirit of God.” He goes on to say that bitterness “manifests itself in many ways, such as losing your temper, high blood pressure, irritability, sleeplessness, obsession with getting even, depression, isolation, a constant negative perspective, and generally feeling unwell” (pages 41-42).
Goodness! That’s a really long and awful list of things that can happen to you when you refuse to forgive and bitterness takes over. You can see that it not only affects you—your health and your well-being—but it spills over to everyone around you. We read in Hebrews 12:15 that we are to “see to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
Maybe you’re thinking that you’re not bitter even though you haven’t forgiven. But I ask you to think about the ways bitterness affects people and see if you don’t have some of those symptoms. Any time you harbor unforgiveness, you really can’t avoid also harboring bitterness—even if you don’t recognize what it’s doing to you.
R.T. Kendall goes on to say that “The absence of bitterness allows the Holy Spirit to be Himself in us…Relinquishing bitterness is an open invitation for the Holy Spirit to give you His peace, His joy, and the knowledge of His will” (Page 43). It’s hard to relinquish bitterness; I know that. But it’s harder to keep it inside you where it will do so much harm. You can’t afford not to forgive.
Wednesday, January 9th, 2019
When I talk about forgiveness, I’m not saying that you make light of the wrongs done to you. You may have been hurt by people who should instead have loved you and protected you. Those are terrible hurts, and they are wrong.
Also, forgiving someone doesn’t mean that the relationship can be restored. There are people you may need to forgive, but you know there can never be a relationship between the two of you again. There may be people you need to forgive who are no longer alive, but you still are harboring unforgiveness toward them.
Forgiveness is probably the hardest thing we are asked—no, we are commanded—to do as followers of Jesus Christ. But you can learn to forgive. By the power of the Holy Spirit, you can grow in your ability to forgive. That is, if you want to.
I’ve given you two reasons that you can’t afford not to forgive.
Here’s number three: You will lose the glory and grace that comes to you when you are willing to forgive.
Proverbs 19:11 says, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” And Hebrews 12:15 says you will miss the grace of God if you allow bitterness to grow because of unforgiveness.
Now this means that God is far more pleased when you overlook an offense—when you are willing to forgive someone, someone who probably doesn’t deserve your forgiveness but you forgive them anyway. That is what Jesus meant when he said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Jesus knows it’s not easy to forgive. He is the greatest example of forgiving people who don’t deserve it when he prayed from the cross, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). He understands the challenge of forgiveness!
When you forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it, who probably hasn’t asked for it, who even continues to do what hurts you, you are learning to forgive like Jesus did. God the Father is pleased and you bring glory to him when you do something that is so difficult to do. It is to your glory and it brings glory to God, and that kind of forgiveness opens the door for the grace of God—his unmerited favor—to be showered on you. You don’t want to miss that, do you? You can’t afford not to forgive when you look at it from God’s perspective.
Thursday, January 10th, 2019
What’s it to you to forgive someone? That’s the question I’ve been focusing on as I’ve talked about why you can’t afford not to forgive. There are so many benefits that you and I are promised when we are willing to forgive someone from our heart.
As I’ve pointed out, you can’t afford not to forgive because Jesus said if you don’t forgive others, he won’t forgive you.
You can’t afford not to forgive, because harboring unforgiveness is a fertile ground for bitterness to grow and do you great damage.
And you can’t afford not to forgive because you will miss the glory and grace that is promised in the Bible when we forgive.
Now, here’s reason number four: You need the freedom that comes through forgiveness.
When you harbor unforgiveness and bitterness starts to grow in your heart, it’s like drinking rat poison and then expecting the rat to die. The poison of your unforgiveness is keeping you a prisoner. You’re in a self-imposed prison which is painful.
Let me describe the kind of torture that besets when you refuse to forgive. That thing which has caused you so much pain gets re-lived and re-lived. Every time you think about it, you get the same awful feelings inside, the same knots in your stomach. Lack of forgiveness causes you to have to go through that pain time and again, and it keeps you from healing.
An unforgiving person is continually tortured with thoughts of revenge and hate. Your mind is never at rest. I can think of a friend of mine who refuses to forgive his ex-wife, and I can’t be with him for five minutes without him somehow getting his digs in about her. He can’t get it out of his head—and he is tortured.
When you can forgive someone, it lightens that pain tremendously and the healing process begins. The bars of your own prison start to come down and you begin to live in new freedom—freedom you didn’t even realize you were missing until Jesus sets you free when you are able to forgive.
Galatians 5:1 says “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Forgiveness sets you free to enjoy the abundant life that Christ died to give you. Can you really keep on harboring unforgiveness and keep yourself locked in that prison?
Friday, January 11th, 2019
I told you I would give you five reasons why you can’t afford not to forgive. They were as follows:
You can’t afford not to forgive because:
- If you don’t forgive, you won’t be forgiven.
- If you don’t forgive, bitterness will grow in your heart and ruin you.
- If you don’t forgive, you’ll miss the glory and grace promised when you forgive.
- If you don’t forgive, you’ll stay in the miserable prison of unforgiveness and miss the freedom Jesus promises us.
Here’s reason number five—and I think it’s the most important one: When you don’t forgive, you are grieving the Holy Spirit who dwells within every true believer, and his power in your life will be greatly diminished.
You will miss doing some of the good works God put you here to do. You will miss the blessing that comes through obedience. You will miss the pure joy that comes when your fellowship with God is close and sweet. You will miss the strength that comes through the joy of the Lord, because when you’re harboring unforgiveness, you’re not very joyful—and the joy of the Lord is your strength.
When you are willing to forgive, you can know God’s power in your life. When you harbor an unforgiving attitude, you make it impossible for God to use you. You become an unclean and unfit vessel that simply must be set aside. Perhaps the spiritual dryness you’ve been experiencing is because you’ve refused to forgive. Maybe the reason God seems so far away from you is due to your unwillingness to get rid of that unforgiving spirit. God can’t use you when you refuse to forgive.
I hope you see the truth that you can’t afford not to forgive, and you will move into the freedom that comes through forgiveness. If you’re struggling with forgiveness, I highly recommend R. T. Kendall’s book, Total Forgiveness. It will give you an even greater understanding of all the good benefits in store for you when you choose to forgive.