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Why its Important to Forgive

By: Keith Wilke

This article was not created to add more guilt or burdens to you. My hope is to remove burdens from you and give you true freedom in Christ. Furthermore, the reader must understand that no one can truly forgive without the helper, The Holy Spirit. This does not mean that the Holy Spirit does all the work! You must purpose to do God's will before the Holy Spirit will help you. Gods will for you is to become conformed to the image of Christ, and Forgiveness is one of his major attributes.

What does it mean to "Forgive"

From Matthew 18:21-35, we see that "Forgiveness" means no longer holding a debt. In this parable, the King forgives a debt that one of his servants owes him. The servant owes a very large debt and can never repay it. Often, when someone hurts us, we consider that they owe us in some way . We mistakenly believe that they must perform some undefined act or deed that will balance the books.

Why should I forgive

All followers of Jesus are commanded to forgive (Matthew 18:21-35). The Bible on this point is very clear. There consequences of not forgiving are not as clear and are covered in the next section. However, there is no doubt that Jesus commanded us to "forgive those that sin against you". If you fail to forgive you are at the very least committing a sin. One roadblock some people have to forgiving is their sense of justice. I've heard people complain that "I don't want them to think that they got away with it". We sometimes believe that if we let go of the debt, the one who hurt us will get away with it unpunished. God has a different view of things. We see in Matthew 18:21-35 that God has already forgiven us a huge debt that only Jesus could pay. Jesus died on the cross to pay for all sin (1 John 2:1-3). The creator of the Universe (Colossians 1:16,17) became a man to redeem all inside it. The same person that holds the universe together, became a man. This same man, Jesus, died a terrible death to redeem you from the natural consequence of your sins. The sacrifice of Jesus is much greater than anything you can ever repay.

So, what happens if I don't forgive someone. There are eternal consequences. We are told to "bear fruit in keeping with repentance;" (Matthew 3:8, Acts 26:20). We are also told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). If you don't forgive someone, you obviously are not bearing fruit in this area. This has potential consequences with respect to your salvation. I believe that the part of you that can not forgive will not enter the Kingdom of God. John the Baptist said that Jesus will "burn up the chaff with fire". (Matthew 3:12). In wheat, the chaff is the part of the plant that is not "fruit" or useful. Many of the parables of Jesus talk about fields and the fruit of them (Matthew 7:18-19). I believe that we are the "field "and the bad fruit (sin attitudes, fruit of sin) will be chopped down and thrown into the fire for every person that has been born again. The part of our heart that refused to be conformed to the image of Christ will not enter into the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 3:15). The parts of our hearts that were transformed (2 Corinthians 3:18) will certainly enter into eternal life and the presence of God. By not forgiving someone, you are spitting on the sacrifice that Jesus made for you. Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins. The consequences of your sin were a debt that you can never repay (Matthew 18:27). By not forgiving, you become wicked (Matthew 18:32,33) because you have not acknowledged the awesome sacrifice that was made on your behalf. The sin that you commit by not forgiving allows the enemy to attack you. This may manifest itself as o Self-destructive social behaviors. Example: Lets say that your father was very domineering and nothing you ever did was good enough for him. Needless to say, you're having trouble forgiving him. Lets also say that have a boss that reminds you of your father. Chances are that you'll end up acting towards your boss as you did towards your father. This will almost always results in a great deal of friction between you and your boss. Since your boss doesn't understand the source of the friction, he'll do his best to avoid you. You can probably expect to receive negative performance reviews, and all this because you couldn't forgive someone from your past. o Mild Paranoia: People that don't forgive often assume that everyone else is as vindictive as they are. o Mental disorders: o Physical sickness. Not being able to forgive often fosters bitterness. Bitterness can result in numerous diseases including Arthritis.

Gaining perspective
Here is an analogy that may help you gain some perspective. Let's say that you were someone that had created a strain of bacteria. Let's also say that something happened to this strain, and the bacteria were all getting sick. What if the only way to save them was to become one of them? To empty yourself of everything: your intelligence, your power, and all the other things that make you human. You'd have to become just as insignificant as the bacteria, and die as one of them to save them. Would any of us do that? We might sacrifice ourselves to save our children, but I doubt that anyone would die to save something so much smaller and insignificant than we are. Jesus did. God naturally expects you to "forgive" the small offense you suffered (in comparison) because of what Jesus did. I know that some of you have suffered horrific things at the hands of others. I'm not trying to downplay the

pain that you suffered. However, you must remember that in all the evil that was done to you, there was a coconspirator, Satan. It is my experience that most human beings are not very good at committing evil acts without some help. Satan and his pitiful army are always looking to drive someone to true evil to get back at God. The enemy (Satan and company) know that they are going to loose the battle. However, that doesn't stop them from pushing people to do evil. The enemy often lies to the person they are influencing. The enemy uses the self-centeredness of human kind to bring about true evil. Since we are all self centered, no one can say that they haven't at one time or another succumbed to being pushed into an evil act. The trick is to hold the unclean spirit that "helped" responsible, not the human. So, you must forgive any human that hurt you. The silver lining is that you should never forgive the enemy. You have God's full permission to hate the enemy and all his works. Just remember to separate his works from his unwitting accomplices.

How do I forgive someone?

The best way to forgive some one is to actually tell them that they are forgiven and what you are forgiving them of. This simple declaration brings healing to you and to the person that hurt you. We see in Matthew 18 that the King actually tells his servant that he is forgiven. The King, being gracious and truly forgiving, not only forgave the debt on the books, but let the servant know of his good fortune. As in all things, your safety may be a consideration. It may not be safe for you to approach the person that hurt you. If it is not safe, then simply saying to God, "I forgive this person for what they did to me" is perfectly acceptable in Gods eyes. All the sin that we commit, such as not forgiving, is ultimately against God. If it has taken you a while to come to the place of forgiveness, then you need to ask God to forgive you for you sin as well. A simple "Please forgive me for not forgiving this person" will make God clear the books.

What's in it for me?

As human beings, we often want to know "what's in it for me?". What do I get if I forgive? First, we receive the forgiveness of God the Father for all of our sins. Second, it becomes much easier to enter into the presence of God. Being Holy and perfect, God the Father has trouble drawing close to a person that knowingly refuses to deal with sin in their life, especially the sin of not forgiving. Third, we receive freedom from our past. Often human beings are like a dog on a chain. Each person that we do not forgive is like a chain to our past. The more chains that you cut, the more freedom you have. Fourth, by forgiving, the enemy has one less way to attack you. This will result in fewer spiritual attacks, and may even result in spontaneous healing of both your mind and body.

How do I know if I've really forgiven someone?

It's sometimes hard to know if you've really forgiven someone. It's easy to say the words "I forgive you", but there is usually no flood of emotion that accompanies the words. Many people say, "I think I've forgiven them, but how do you really know?" Again, the only true way to know whether you've really forgiven someone is by the fruit. When you haven't forgiven someone, there is usually a great deal of negative emotional energy (anger, tears) associated with thoughts of the events and people that caused the pain (the offense). Often, our thoughts will take on a life of their own and we'll have a hard time not dwelling on the offense. After we have truly forgiven, the emotional energy associated with the memory of the offense seems to disappear. We can still understand that we were truly wronged, but after thinking on it a few seconds, we find our mind moving on to other more important things. A person that has truly forgiven does not feel a need to receive an apology from the person that wronged them. The person that has truly forgiven no longer believes that there is a debt that must be repaid to them. This does not mean that you can't take into account what you've learned about the offender from their actions. If your father molested you when you were a child, forgiveness does not mean that you have to let them baby-sit your children. Forgiveness does not mean that you have to forget what the person revealed about their weaknesses or personality by their actions. On the other hand, forgiveness does mean that you have to stop beating them up about their weaknesses and it's impact on your life.

If you are having trouble really forgiving someone, try these things: Pray that God would help you. God sent the Holy Spirit to help us, so let him help! Make a list of all the ways that a particular person hurt you. Now make a list of all of the ways that you may have hurt them. It's OK if your list of hurts is much bigger than theirs. o Now, go through the list of hurts that you've received one by one, and forgive that person. Depending on what you've suffered, you may only be able to deal with one issue at a time. If you find that you can't forgive something, ask God to help. Don't go to the next item until you sense that you have really forgiven the person for that item. o If the person in question is still alive, make an attempt to ask for their forgiveness. Don't bring up their sins against you! Also, do not "document" your sins against them. You can talk about how you hurt them, but it is unwise to write it down and send it to them.