In our broken and fragmented society, one of our most common sins is unforgiveness. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus made it clear that if we refuse to forgive those who have wronged us He will not forgive us. It's just this simple. Refusing to forgive is a sin. So as long as you refuse to forgive that sin comes between you and God. We cannot expect God to forgive us if we are unwilling to forgive others.
In Eph. 4:32 Paul tells us that, "We are to forgive each other, just as in Christ God forgave us." Our willingness to forgive is to be patterned after God's willingness to forgive us.
In a conversation between Christ and Peter in Matthew 18:21 this same point is emphasized. Peter asked Christ, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "----not seven times, but seventy times seven." Just as Christ never put a limit on His willingness to forgive us, we must be willing to forgive as often as it is necessary.
There is never any justification for refusing to forgive. Even in those situations where one must remove themselves from an intolerable situation there must still be a willingness to forgive.
The moment we are wounded by the words or actions of others, we must refuse to allow bitterness and unforgiveness to exist in our heart. Unforgiveness is like a cancer. It will absolutely destroy you and your relationship with God. It will take away your joy and peace. You will live in bondage.
One of the most beautiful examples of how God forgives is seen in the story of the prodigal son. When the long, lost son returned home from his godless living the father, who is a type of God the Father, ran to greet him, embraced him and celebrated his return.
God's motivation for forgiving us is not based on who we are, or what we have, or what we have done. God's motivation for forgiving us is found in Himself. God is love. It is His nature to love us and to forgive us. If we genuinely repent God will instantly forgive us of every sin we have ever committed. You may have fallen many times and sinned deeply. However, God never changes. He is always love. He will forgive you. What a powerful example of Gods forgiveness.
Here is our challenge. We are to forgive as God forgives. Some might respond, "But I'm not God. It's just not possible for me to forgive the way he does." We must understand that God does not require of us the impossible. He will supply the grace and strength we need to forgive as He forgives.
The answer is to completely surrender your will to God and be filled with the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love. Through the power of the Holy Spirit you can turn the other cheek, go the second mile, and forgive seventy times seven.
One of the most Christlike things you will ever do is to forgive those who have wronged you. Conversely, one of the most unchristian things you will ever do is to refuse to forgive. It is a contradiction to everything that is truly Christian.
If you have allowed unforgiveness to exist in your heart, I urge you to seek God's forgiveness for your sin, surrender your all to Him and make a conscious decision to let your unforgiveness and bitterness go. Forgiveness is a choice. You must humble yourself and choose to forgive. By the grace of God you can have victory today!