"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matt. 6: 14-15
Many Christians hold on to grudges, not understanding the danger that they are putting themselves in. The scriptures are very clear, if you cannot forgive someone for sinning against you; God cannot forgive you your sins. Sin destroys and brings death. It has been proven by secular doctors that when you hold a grudge and cannot forgive someone, the higher the chances are of you developing heart disease, arthritis and other forms of sickness.
My father was an alcoholic and would frequently beat my mother. I would hide under my bed trying to escape her cries and my anger towards my father would grow. When I reached 18 and my parent’s marriage ended, I wanted nothing to do with him. I wished he were dead. I remember if I’d see him coming down the street, I’d cross to the other side in order to avoid him. I was very unforgiving towards my father and it ate away at my body and spirit. I suffered from anxiety attacks and depression. I would try to get away from the anger by turning to sex and parties. At 24 my body was worn out and I developed severe Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was told that by the time I reached 30 years old I’d be in a wheelchair. It was during this time I turned back to God.
I had accepted Jesus into my heart at 8 years old and remembered the joy I had at that time, but I had fallen away as I grew older. I asked Jesus to restore me, wash me, cleanse me and heal me. My hands and jaw that had been disfigured by the disease were restored and my faith in Jesus was renewed. I realized through reading God’s word where my illness came from and that I had to forgive my father. I sought him out and told him that I loved him and forgave him and asked for his forgiveness as well. We both wept and he asked Jesus into his heart a few months later.
Where is your heart today? Do you have trouble forgiving someone who hurt you? We are to walk in forgiveness. How many times are you to forgive? Jesus said seventy times seven a day. (Matt 18:21-22) If Christ, when He was on the cross and all our sins were laid upon Him could say, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." We have no excuse. We must forgive as He forgave otherwise we put ourselves in danger. Jesus told a parable on the subject of forgiveness after telling Peter how often we are to forgive.
“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
“But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
“But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
“His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
“When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
“That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.” Matthew 18:23:34 (NLT)
Maybe somebody has done some horrific things to you that you have trouble forgiving. Rape, murder, incest and other things are horrible crimes that happen in our society because of sin and they should not go unpunished and they won’t. I don’t want to be insensitive to the pain that people who have suffered from these things feel. The scars left behind in those affected are hard to deal with but with prayer, biblical counselling and a close relationship with God it is possible. One has to remember that no one suffered more through beatings and torture than Jesus. He was spit upon, mocked and humiliated in ways we just can’t imagine, took the sins of the entire world upon Himself and yet what were the words He uttered on the cross? He said “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 28:34 He forgave freely and He is our example.
Check your heart and forgive those who have sinned against you. Release any bitterness that is eating away at you. If you have trouble, ask God to help you and Seek out a pastor that is willing to give good sound biblical counselling. I promise you God will bring healing and peace to your life. Come to the cross and lay it down.