Luke 12:48 tells us that “to whom much is given, much is required“. We have been given much as Christians, love, hope charity, peace, joy, strength, forgiveness, eternal life, and so on, therefore much is required of us. The fruits of the spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23 that we are required to have and show forth to others is really the same mercies and characteristics that Christ showed toward us. As stated in Matthew 10 verse 8 by Christ Himself, “freely you have received, freely you must give.”
Wait! You say, I have to give something? I thought salvation was free? While it doesn’t cost us anything to receive salvation, it dose cost you to keep it. God calls us to “come as we are“, but not to “stay as we were“. One of those cost that we are required to give up is the notion that we have a right to be mad, hurt, or offended by anyone for any length of time. We have been given forgiveness and there for we are required to do the same.
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:32
Holding onto unforgivness is one of the most damaging and dangerous things a Christian can do. When left unchecked it is a bitterness that sickens your heart and even spreads to others around you, sense the things that are in your heart always finds it’s way to your lips and then to the ears of others.
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;” Hebrews 12:14-15
Unforgiveness is so dangerous to the Christian that God sets the priority of forgiveness and making amends with others higher then those of giving offerings to God, which today is done through our praise, worship, and prayer.
“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Matthew 5:23-24
Why would God hold this issue of such dire importance that He would give correcting it more priority then honoring Him? Because it left un-dealt-with, it will cost you your very salvation and those song and prayer offerings will amount to nothing if you’re not even saved anymore.
“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.” – Matthew 6:14-15
I can explain this a thousand different ways but Jesus, being a far better teacher then I, explains it best here:
“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” – Matthew 18:21-35
Note that the guilty servant had been forgiven and pardoned, his debt wiped clean. This represents someone who, being born into sin as we all were, received the mercy of salvation. However, at some point later after receiving his pardon he fell into unforgiveness. He did not freely give that which he had freely received. Therefor, he lost the grace and mercy of his master and was handed over to the tormenters, meaning he lost his salvation and received the damnation of Hell.
So now that we see the very real danger of allowing unforgiveness residence in our hearts, how do we get rid of it or better yet, keep it from setting in, in the first place?
Ask God to forgive you and remove the root of bitterness from your heart if there be any there. Ask Him to help you to see people the way he does. When you feel God’s heart toward others it becomes very easy to forgive and love people the way God loves. Finally, pray for those that have wronged you. Praying for them will cause you to feel God’s heart for them and it will cause the bitterness in you toward them to be replaced with brokenness and compassion.
You see the initial offense was a heart wound and this effectively stops the spread of spiritual infection from that wound, the infection being the bitterness, and in turn applies the healing balm of the love of God. It stops the spread of the infection to other parts of the body (the church) and begins the healing of the wound that caused the infection in the first place. When we stop picking at the wounds, ignoring the spreading infection, and call on The Great Physician everybody gets healed.
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” – Matthew 5:44