By George Kirkpatrick
Vital Words to the Body of Christ
Proclaiming the Everlasting Gospel of the Kingdom
Vital Words to the Body of Christ
Freely We Have Received, Freely We Give
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One of the most prominent things in a man's life which hinders him from reaching the high calling of God in his life is unforgiveness. Unforgiveness can harm our physical health. It can disrupt our mental being. But most of all, it will hinder our Spiritual walk with God. In his letter to the Hebrews, Paul warns us about a root of bitterness:
"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 12:15
When a root of bitterness is planted in our life, we can be assured unforgiveness is the fertilizer that makes it grow. As Paul warned, if we allow this root of bitterness in our life, we have failed the grace of God.
Another word for this root of bitterness is hard feelings. Hard feelings develop when we fail to forgive those who trespass against us. When we fail to forgive, it sets a whole chain of events in motion, that will eventually rob us of our peace. This causes us to become resentful, and the basest of emotions takes over, and that is to get even with those who have hurt us.
A bitter root in our life always produces bitter fruit, until everything we think or do seems wrong, and we become discontent with ourselves and those around us. Paul knew and understood how important it was to have contentment in his life:
"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Philippians 4:11
Can we truly say, as Paul, whatsoever state I am in, I am content, or do wants and desires keep us in a constant state of turmoil where nothing we have seems enough? When the multitude came to the river to be baptized by John, the soldiers asked John, "What shall we do?" John's answer was:
". . . Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages." Luke 3:14
Today we live in a violent world where people never seem to have enough. Their lives are in constant turmoil because of wanting and desiring everything they see. These will do anything to fulfill their wants and every desire. This discontentment keeps the police busy, the doctors' offices filled, and the criminal and divorce court dockets filled. They forget the words of Paul to Timothy:
"But godliness with contentment is great gain." I Timothy 6:6
So, how do we get contentment with our God and with each other. We must bridle our wants and desires. But most of all we must produce forgiveness in every aspect of our life. John the Beloved wrote:
"Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." John 20:23
Unforgiveness is a sin. The word remit means "to send away or forgive." When we forgive those who sin against us, then we are free of the sin of unforgiveness. But if we do not forgive, then we retain or hold on to the sin, and we are stuck with it, and it does its damaging work. This gives place for the root of bitterness and begins the process of the downward plunge of our Spiritual walk. It will affect all our relationships.
It is critical that we forgive. This universe operates according to God's well-crafted design, and human relationships are no exception. In order for us to live the abundant life as the Word of God promises us, and to experience healing and release from devastating relationships and circumstances, we must practice the principle of forgiveness.
Forgiveness must be automatic in a Christian's life. This act must be practiced until it becomes perfected in our life. The Lord Jesus gives us many reasons to forgive in His Word:
"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 heavenly Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 6:14-15
Those who do not forgive, are not forgiven of the Father. Therefore, they remain in their sin, and they have no hope in God until they forgive. They harbor hurts, and go deeper and deeper in their unforgiveness until their whole thought processes are consumed with these ungodly, disrupting thoughts.
The prophet Isaiah gives us insight as to how we can be pleasing to our God:
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee." Isaiah 26:3
We cannot have this promised, perfect peace when our minds are on the hurts others have caused us. And as Matthew warned, we cannot have our sins forgiven if we have not forgiven others who have sinned against us.
If we are serious about our relationship with our God, then it becomes imperative to forgive, forgive, and forgive. Even the early disciples had a problem understanding the importance of forgiveness:
"Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." Matthew 18:21-22
Peter was the inquisitive one, but his heart was to be pleasing in the sight of God. Jesus' answer has stunned people down through the ages. Sometimes seven times seems like a lot, but Jesus said we are to forgive 490 times. Jesus must have known that after we forgive 490 times, then forgiveness will become part of our being.
Jesus also knew that 490 was the number of Spiritual perfection (7 is God's perfect number, and ten is the number of completion, so 7 times 7 times 10 represents Spiritual perfection). When we come into Spiritual perfection, we will not hold grudges, we will not have hard feelings toward others, and we will be free to enter into God's perfect peace because our minds will be stayed on Him. A wise man wrote:
"Forgiveness is the key to the doorway of healing and freedom. Forgiveness builds a sturdy bridge over which repentance and reconciliation can pass. To forgive is to set a prisoner free - - - and you will discover the prisoner was you."
I am sure we have all known people who have held grudges and hard feelings their whole life. And when they are asked why, they generally cannot remember why, but they continue in their misery and are too proud to make amends.
Jesus understood the power of forgiveness. He related the story of a man who owed his master a large sum of money. He asked his master to forgive his debt - - - which the master forgave the whole 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." Matthew 18:28-34
Many times we are like the ungrateful servant. We want God to forgive all our sins and bless us, but do we forgive others who have sinned against us, and are we a blessing to them? If we are like the ungrateful servant, what can we expect? Jesus tells us, and then makes us a promise:
"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 18:34-35
The ungrateful servant was delivered to the tormentors. Then Jesus makes us the promise, "If we do not forgive everyone of our brother's trespasses, so our heavenly Father will do to you." We wonder why some of God's people are suffering? They need to look at their lives to see if there is unforgiveness that has not been dealt with.
We are also informed the ungrateful servant was cast into prison until the debt was paid. If we do not forgive, what kind of prison are we in? We are held captive in the prison of our mind. It is a prison of unseen bars, of unopened locks, and we will be held there until we practice the act of unforgiveness. Forgiveness is the only key that will open those prison doors and set us free. This prison not only keeps us in, but locks others out.
There are two aspects of forgiveness: one is the act of forgiving, the other is the act of forgetting. Have you ever had a genuine desire to forgive a person and have said all the right words, "I forgive so and so for whatever the offense against me was?", only to discover moments later or days and weeks later that you were carrying on an argument with them in your mind?
You may think you have forgiven them, but have you truly forgotten their trespass against you? If the trespass is still in your mind (heart), then you have not truly forgiven them from the heart.
Many have carried grudges and hard feelings from their childhood. Someone hurt them as a child, and they never forgave that person or persons. Many times the person who hurt them has died, but they still carry the hurt. Then they wonder why there is no peace in their lives.
A good test of whether or not you have genuinely forgiven a person from the heart is when you think of them, there are no negative thoughts or reactions.
Jesus gave us insight when He said we must forgive from the heart. If we still have negative thoughts against a person, then our heart has not changed toward that person and we still suffer from unforgiveness. Until we forgive and truly forget our whole nature becomes one of getting even with our mouth or with our actions, even as far as wishing for that person's death.
A wise man gives us insight into unforgiveness:
. . . unforgiveness is the act of drinking poison and hoping someone else dies.
Jesus spoke many times about forgiveness because He knew the devastating affect unforgiveness has on our body. After all He created us and knows our very being.
"Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:" Luke 6:37
If we judge others, then God will judge us. If we condemn others, then God will cause condemnation to come upon us. If we do not forgive, then we have no forgiveness for the sins we commit against God or His people.
Generally speaking, unforgiveness leads to judging and condemning others, but when we forgive, then we set in motion Gods' forgiving grace in our lives. Then, and only then, will we be set free from the prison house that held us in bondage. Paul knew the power of forgiveness:
"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32
When we are kind and tenderhearted to one another, forgiving one another. and living in harmony with one another, then we truly prove to our God we deserve His forgiveness toward us. When we do not forgive, we tie God's hands so He cannot forgive us.
Another wise person said,
" Forgiveness is the fragrance that the flower leaves on the heel of the one who crushed it."
John, the Beloved, wrote:
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:9
When we confess our sins, then God will not only forgive our sins, but confessing our sin will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Unforgiveness is nothing new. It began in the Garden of Eden. Cain was unable to forgive his brother Abel because Abel's sacrifice was acceptable before God and his was not. This led to the first murder. How many murders have there been since, because of unforgiveness?
Unforgiveness leads to hatred. Hatred in our bodies is a festering sore. The more you pick at it, the worse it becomes until it consumes our whole thinking process. Getting even becomes our only thought.
King David committed more sin than we could ever be guilty of, but David had a repentant heart. Many of David's Psalms were Psalms of repentance:
"For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight: that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest." Psalm 51:3-4
David knew when he sinned it was against God. Anytime we break one of God's royal laws, our sin is against our God. David's tender heart convicted him of his sin. Every person born is born with a conscience. Our conscience is what convicts us of our sin. In his letter to Timothy, Paul warns the people of our day:
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;" I Timothy 4:1-2
The Spirit revealed to Paul, ". . . in the latter times some will depart from the faith. . .". This is evident in the day in which we live. Many give heed to seducing spirits (or deceiving spirits) and doctrines of devils. The Moslems are a perfect example of these doctrines of devils. They speak lies in hypocrisy, or they are simply play acting. As Paul reveals, they have their consciences seared, or hardened with a hot iron. God can no longer convict these of their sin, therefore they do not repent, and they remain in their sin condition, and judge others as they, remaining in their unrighteousness. These deceiving spirits are not only in the Moslems but in every other cult religion.
Although David committed many sins toward his God, he remained tenderhearted - - - always repenting and seeking God's forgiveness. It was said of David, he was a man after God's own heart. David's whole desire, as ours should be, was to stand before God clean and whole.
Jesus revealed to John on the Isle of Patmos a sea of glass.
"And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal . . ." Revelation 4:6
The sea of glass is God's creation who will stand before Him on the Day of Judgment. Where will they hide their sin when they become like crystal? God knows our innermost being. We can hide nothing from Him, so we might just as well confess our sin, so we can be healed and made whole.
The All-Wise Solomon shared his wisdom when he wrote:
"He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." Proverbs 28:13
If we want God's mercy in our life, then we must confess our sins and forsake our sins. Only then can we obtain God's mercy. As long as we try to cover (hide) our sin, we will never prosper in the things of God.
Our sin is not only the sin of unforgiveness and hard feelings, but it includes our continual grievance toward our brothers and sisters. Until we deal with these in our life, we cannot expect to obtain God's mercy. David, who understood God's mercy and forgiveness probably more than any man, proclaimed in his reference to God's mercy:
"Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases." Psalm 103:3
David knew how the sin of unforgiveness affects man's physical being. Many are sick in their bodies because they are bound up in hate and unforgiveness. They suffer depression and become bitter, until their life becomes a festering mess. They are miserable, and try to make all those around them miserable. They continue in their miserable state until their whole body, soul, and spirit are devastated. They wonder why they no longer enjoy God's mercy and forgiveness in their life. James writes:
"Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door." James 5:9
The word grudge means "to groan with grief." We are not to grudge or hold grudges against anyone, or we will be condemned. The judge truly stands at the door to judge those who hold grudges. A grudge is simply unforgiveness.
Peter gives us further insight as to what God expects of us:
"Use hospitality one to another without grudging." I Peter 4:9
The word grudging used in this Scripture is a different word, and means "to murmur and complain." We are to show hospitality to one another, even to those we do not like, without murmuring or complaining.
There are three men in God's Word who showed perfect forgiveness. The first was Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused by Potipher's wife, and forgotten by Pharaoh's butler. Yet when he became second ruler in Egypt, he got even with none of these. He told his brothers that God did all this to preserve life. Joseph not only forgave with his mouth, he forgave from the heart.
We are not made aware of how God is using us in any situation He puts us in. Jesus is our perfect example of forgiveness. When He was beaten unmercifully and nailed to the cross, He could still say, "Father, forgive them."
Certainly Stephen was an example to us of forgiveness. Even as he was being stoned, he too forgave those throwing the rocks. They said as he was dying, he had the face of an angel.
How would we react in any one of these situations? We need to ask ourselves, "Why are God's people suffering so much?" In most cases, it is because there is unforgiveness in their lives.
We need to know there are three aspects of forgiveness:
1. Forgiving others who trespass against us
2. Receiving forgiveness from others who have trespassed against us
3. Forgiving ourselves
Forgiving ourselves is the most important aspect of all three. Many err in God's Word. They get an "O Woe is Me Attitude", until they convince themselves they are only failures and cannot succeed in God. Many continue in this attitude for the rest of their life.
God wants us to know that if we ask Him, He will forgive us. Our brothers and sisters want us to know, if we ask them they, too, will forgive us. But the most important forgiveness, is when we forgive ourselves of our past failures.
When we practice the art of forgiveness, then God's grace and mercy will abound in our life.
Swallow the pride, deal with the hurts, and be set free to live the abundant life God has promised us. Praise the Lord!
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Vital Words to the Body of Christ
Freely We Have Received, Freely We Give
Come visit our online catalog at: http://www.newfoundationspubl.org/titles.htm