The refusal to forgive is a big and often underestimated problem and an obstacle to the healing and well-being of our souls. This article deals with forgiveness from a Biblical point of view and the reasons to forgive. It also reviews the consequences for us if we forgive or if we choose not to forgive.
What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is the refusal to play the role of a judge of the sinful activity of another person or for one’s own and its negative consequences. Such as loss of any kind, pain, mental or physical suffering. Forgiveness is the acceptance and the agreement to live with the negative consequences of the sin of another, refusing to be the judge. It is a conscious choice, an act of the will, to confront the pain caused by the sinful action, inaction or words of another person. Forgiveness involves the decision to transfer the function of the judge to God, who alone is a Righteous Judge, acknowledging our inability to do so. When we choose to forgive, we also choose to turn our case to the Righteous Judge expecting that He will compensate and free us from the consequences of another person’s sin.
It is very important to note that the decision to forgive does not mean giving another person permanent permission for mistreatment and misuse. Forgiveness is a basic tool for the liberating and healing of our heart, not for enabling and maintaining sinful behavior in others. On the contrary – if we are constantly exposed to this type of injurious behavior by another person, we must necessarily set boundaries with God’s wisdom.
Our reason to forgive
Forgiveness is a scandalous concept and seems terribly unjust and outrageous. Why do I have to agree to live with the consequences of another person’s sin? Where is the justice?
These questions are justified and find their answer only in Christ’s Cross. The commandment of God is, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32) What enables us to forgive without compromising justice and judgment is Christ’s Cross, where God’s mercy and God’s justice meet and balance. We can forgive not only because God forgives us and reconciles us with Him. But because we can fully trust His justice, judgment, vindication, and repayment. When we forgive, we give up the role of a judge and give our case to the Righteous Judge. We can rest completely reassured that He will judge righteously and compensate us for everything. To forgive is to obey and follow Him.
God wants us to let Him be the Avenger for He alone can do it impartially. The Word of God instructs us thus: “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord. (Romans 12:19-21)
The consequences of unforgiveness
Unforgiveness holds us in captivity and obstructs our fellowship with God. It hinders us to receive His provision. If we let it reign in our hearts, they become hardened. It is very difficult for hardened hearts to accept God’s love and to follow Him. This leads to slowing down and blocking God’s restoration work in us and His blessings. The unforgiveness produces bitter roots of disappointment and bitterness, and of revanchism. Maintaining an unforgivable attitude eventually leads to a destructive addiction to being constantly offended and perceiving oneself as a victim. This is captivity and prison for the soul.
The refusal to forgive is a great hindrance and an obstacle to our prayers. Since God shows us mercy forgiving and accepting us in Christ, He expects the same from us. “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 6:14-15)
The fruits of forgiveness
Forgiveness opens the way to freedom and recovery. The choice to forgive is the first step to the process of healing the wounds and traumas that have occurred because of other people’s sinful actions or words towards us. When the soul forgives, by refusing to be the Judge, it can rest. And the grace of God can freely flow and soften the soul’s strongholds.
The second important consequence is that forgiveness opens the way to restored relationships. When we forgive, we give green light to the Spirit of God to work in the heart of others, to convict and soften them. God’s Word says in Proverbs 16:7, “When the LORD takes pleasure in anyone’s way, He causes their enemies to make peace with them.”
The decision to forgive opens the way for the manifestation of God’s love, both to ourselves and from ourselves to others. God’s love, which can flow freely in our hearts, changes the way we look at other people and interact with them. We begin to look at them through the prism of God’s mercy and love, noticing their prisons and pits, and seeing their wounds and the need for love. We become recipients, bearers, and channels of God’s love which is the true answer to all our quests and needs.
Do you struggle with forgiveness? Who, and what are you not able to forgive? Come share your thoughts in the comments!