Jesus takes forgiveness seriously, as in the parable of the ‘Unforgiving Servant’ Matthew 18:23-35. Unforgiveness, if not dealt with, can have dramatic consequences in our lives.
By not forgiving, we are in an inner prison, held there by bitterness and resentment, and it enslaves and hurts us more than the perpetrator - we are handing them power over our lives.
When we open the door by forgiving others and ourselves, it improves our well-being health and happiness.
Research has shown that forgiveness lowers levels of anxiety, stress and depression and improves physical health.
First, it helps to understand our own need for personal forgiveness. Jesus paid the price. He wiped the slate clean. This can be hard to fully receive. Read Romans 8:1.
There is ‘NO CONDEMNATION …’
It’s vital to fully take hold of this. By not understanding this, we may hold onto sadness as a way of punishing ourselves, because we do not believe we deserve the freedom forgiveness brings.
However, it may come as a bit of a shock when we discover that nowhere in the Bible does it say forgiveness is offered unconditionally! Jesus teaches us to forgive others.
Read Matthew 6:12
This does not mean the perpetrator gets off scot free, that what they did doesn’t matter, that they are not accountable.
In some cases Restorative Justice needs to be done for the victim and the offender.
It is a hard teaching as some people have been so grievously hurt and betrayed. It is a process, which may take a lifetime, and we cannot do this without God.
HOW DO WE BEGIN
The only way of finding freedom is to receive God’s forgiveness. Confess your sins to Him - it is an act of faith, choose to take hold of it.
Your feelings may come and go, but you are not your feelings. The fact is, God says you are bought at a great price; forgiven, redeemed, He came to restore you.
Forgiveness is a crucial Christian principle, both for you and others.
We will, over the next few months, spend time exploring this.
‘Our mercy to each other comes from God’s mercy to us.’