Forgive Because You Are Forgiven
"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 6:15 NIV)
I have no doubt that many of you are carrying some deep wounds that you've carried for months, maybe even years. When you think about that person who hurt you, it's still as fresh as if it happened this morning. The pain is still there, and you're still filled with resentment.
You say, "Why in the world should I forgive that person who hurt me so much? You have no idea how much they hurt me. Why should I offer grace to that person?"
You ought to do it for three reasons:
1. You need to be gracious to others and forgive those who've hurt you because God has been gracious to you.
You will never have to forgive anyone else more than Jesus Christ has already forgiven you. You should consider that you haven't always gotten what you deserved, either. God has been gracious with you. Now be gracious with others.
2. You need to forgive others because the alternative is bitterness.
Scientists tell us that resentment is the unhealthiest emotion there is. It always hurts you more than anybody else! Resentment will not change the past, and it won't solve the problem. It doesn't even make you feel better. In fact, it makes you feel worse.
The Bible says in Hebrews 12:15, "Be careful that none of you fails to respond to the grace which God gives, for if he does there can very easily spring up in him a bitter spirit which is not only bad in itself but can also poison the lives of many others" (Phillips).
3. You need to show grace to and forgive others because God expects you to do it.
Matthew 6:15 says, "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" (NIV). Jesus says we cannot receive what we are unwilling to give. If you say, "I could never forgive that person," then I hope you never sin. If you just don't feel like doing it, do it anyway, because it's the right thing to do.
The reason why some of you have a hard time forgiving is because you don't feel forgiven. Would you pray this prayer of liberation and freedom in your heart?
"Dear Jesus Christ, you know I've been hurt by others. You know that my resentment has made me act in ways that have been unreasonable and unhelpful and unhealthy. I need your power to release and forgive those who've hurt me so I can stop letting them control me. Would you please replace my hurt with the peace of Jesus Christ? God, I realize that I've hurt a lot of other people with my habits and my bad decisions and my hang-ups. Would you please forgive me for the way I've hurt others? Help me to make a list of those I've harmed and in the right way at the right time to humbly seek to make amends. Jesus Christ, I want to refocus my life on you. I want to face the future courageously with love and peace in my heart. Would you replace my resentment with your love, my bitterness with your grace? Thank you for your graciousness to me. Thank you for forgiving me for the things that I've done wrong. In Jesus' name. Amen."...Read More.