‘The LORD – the LORD is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin.’ Ex. 34:6, 7. CSB
As always, God provides us an example to model – this one for forgiveness. Moreover, He also tells us how to access His forgiveness:
“…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chr. 7:14 NKJV
God demands forgiveness from His children as well. There is a dire penalty laid upon those who don’t:
“For if you forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses.” Mt. 6:14, 15. AMP
The devastation of unforgiveness then, is a situation where your sins are unforgiven, which, if you remain in that state, will receive the ultimate penalty: eternal separation from God and His children. Where you would reside, should you continue in your sins, is with the devil – the one who suggested that you sin in the first place.
So, how do we get to a place where we find ourselves withholding our forgiveness? We get there because someone else hurt us, or we think that they did. Usually, that someone is close to us; otherwise, we wouldn’t care. We perceive ourselves as wounded, and that wound begins to fester and transforms (with some tweaking by the devil) into anger and bitterness.
We don’t confront the offender because we are still reeling from the fact that someone who should care about us has harmed us in this manner. Thus, we never have a chance to clean up what was most likely a misunderstanding. (That’s not to say that there aren’t people who deliberately attack; yet, confrontation is still the answer).
Then, we feed this wound, and in time it becomes a torment of imagination that far exceeds the original insult.
Confrontation, done in God’s way, a loving way, serves both parties:
The servant of the Lord must not participate in quarrels, but must be kind to everyone [even-tempered, preserving peace, and he must be], skilled in teaching, patient and tolerant when wronged. He must correct those who are in opposition with courtesy and gentleness in the hope that God may grant that they will repent and be led to the knowledge of the truth [accurately understanding and welcoming it], and may come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. 2 Tim. 2:24 – 26. AMP
Misunderstandings are cleared, wounds are soothed, relationships are restored, all by doing it God’s way, through acting out His word. And, you get to stop playing the victim!
You only withhold forgiveness when you judge; and God gives us a moral imperative against that:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged…And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” Mt. 7:1 – 3. NKJV
If we didn’t judge, then we would not blame; subsequently there would be nothing to forgive.
Judgment is a chronic stream of mental chatter that the devil uses – lies, which if you believe them, will bring you a life filled with dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Within that chatter, you’ll find ‘He did, she did;’ ‘They can’t, I can’t;’ ‘Life is horrific;’ ‘They made me / my life this way;’ etc. What happens? You view your life and others through the lens of your personal preferences – predilections constructed from the afore-mentioned satanic deceptions, that are shaping a false reality.
You mold your judgments within your self-constructed tunnel vision: images of how you think the world should be. This is all rooted in a blindness that we take on, when we shift our focus from God to ourselves. Ironically, when you judge, the only thing you accurately define is yourself, and you surround yourself with clones of your dysfunctional behavior and your cycles of relationships are simply ‘rinse and repeat.’
The tendency to judge is perpetuated by an attachment to being ‘right,’ exhibited by your tenacious clinging to your own point of view as being the ‘gold standard.’
When we can suspend judgment, then the burden of self-judgment is also lifted. Only then can we have a space for repentance and forgiveness.
There are some people who seem to us to be unlovable – ungrateful, unappreciative, cold, cantankerous. Yet, God loves that person, and He wants to love them through you as well; otherwise, He would not have put them in your orbit.
It’s obvious they are running their own mental schemes as well. Loving them as God loves them, builds your character, gets your mind off of yourself and your expectations, gives the other person a chance to find freedom from themselves, and see an open door to their Creator.
“But I say to you, love [that is, unselfishly seeks the best or higher good for] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Mt. 5:44 AMP
For those people who did actually and purposely cause you injury, forgive them, (staying away from them if a safety issue exists), and remember God’s place in this situation:
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath [and His judicial righteousness]; for it is written [in scripture], “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. Rm. 12:19 AMP
Keep in mind that just because we come to a place where we can see how we have been being and what we have been doing, and how our judgment is antithetical to what God wants for us, we are still human. In spite of our best efforts, we will still sin, we will judge. When our God-given conviction kicks in, so must a new cycle of forgiveness:
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Col. 3:12, 13. ESV
Sometimes, the tendency to judge is seemingly impossible to turn away from – especially if someone does something that you perceive not to be in your best interest. The truth is, most people are not intentionally injurious. They only know how to exist the way that they are being at that point in their lives, because they believe that behavior is vital for their survival.
We need to be compassionate towards them, forgiving them for projecting their inner suffering outwards. We just happened to be a convenient target.
When you don’t forgive these ‘injuries’ and the stories that you build around them (your judgments), they hold you in bondage. How does God want you to respond?
…you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise, such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow…reaffirm your love to him. 2 Cor. 2:7, 8. NASB
Our Father in heaven places such a high priority on forgiveness, that He will not even hear your prayers until you make reconciliation with your object of unforgiveness. (Mt. 5:23, 24.) Christ told us to forgive everyone perpetually. (Mt. 18:22)
There is never an excuse for judgment where others are concerned. We are condemned spiritually, and our lives will suffer every time we practice it.
Forgiveness begins in the mirror. After all, most of the things we don’t forgive in others, are the same things we don’t forgive in ourselves. Without forgiveness, we create a barrier between ourselves and our Creator.
Forgiveness comes from the heart; it is a Spiritual endowment, completing our relationship with ourselves, God, and all other people. Forgiving is the highest act of giving: where we give our love away, regardless of whether we think it is deserved. After all, who doesn’t deserve love?
Forgiveness emulates the character of the Father and the Son. Christ went to the cross for our forgiveness. When we forgive, we honor His sacred sacrifice – acknowledging that it was enough…
Goodnight and God bless