Some Christians obey it; some have forgotten it; and some just conveniently overlook it.
What am I talking about? Forgiveness.
If we truly desire to live a godly life, we will obey God’s commands in His Word about forgiveness. If we have unforgiveness in our heart and we want to be right with God, we repent of our disobedience and ask God to forgive us. And He will forgive us…but there’s a hitch. A conditional clause. Before you jump in (or jump out) and disagree, let’s see what the Word says.
Written in red letters in some Bible versions, Jesus said, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37 NKJV) Ah, therein lies the rub: we aren’t forgiven if we don’t forgive first.
More red letters…
Jesus gave the disciples a model prayer and, in part, said, “Forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.” (Matt. 6:12 TLB)
And more red letters…
“And whenever you stand praying, if…” there’s that condition again, “you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” And again, “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25-26 NKJV)
Now, that’s pretty plain, wouldn’t you say?
But our eyes glaze over these verses when adverse circumstances dig their heels into our heart and soul. And our rememberer gets holes in it. And we don’t forgive those who have wronged us in whatever way.
Forgive them? You say. But you don’t know what they’ve done to me. Yes, sometimes it’s extremely difficult to forgive. But sometimes, we cling too tightly to unforgiveness, harboring it, and we will not let go. And our lives take a nosedive into that downward spiral.
Then, with our hearts full of acrid and poisonous emotions and thoughts, what do we end up doing to that precious Holy Spirit within us? Paul wrote to the Ephesian church, “Do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live…Get rid of all…types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:30-32 NLT) If not, the fruit of the Spirit is choked out.
The Message states verse 32 this way, “Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” Amen!
So, if we don’t first forgive others, what are the consequences besides grieving the Holy Spirit?
1) No right relationship with God can prevail.
2) We destroy our flow of intimate fellowship with the Lord.
3) We become our own hindrance to our prayers, for if we harbor any sin, as David said, “the Lord will not hear.” (Ps. 66:18b NKJV)
Paul wrote, “You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Col. 3:13 NLT)
If we are disobedient to forgive, then it begs the question: do we really love the Lord? What did He say? “…If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words.” (John 14:23-24a NKJV)
How can we say we love God but hate a Christian brother or sister who has the living God within them? The disciple John said, “He has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.” (1 John 4:21 NLT)
If we desire God’s best in our lives, if we desire the right relationship with the Lord, if we desire to have intimate fellowship with Him, if we desire not to grieve the Holy Spirit, if we desire our prayers answered, then, we must forgive.