Matthew 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
2Corinthians 2:7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Forgiveness is a concept that is often misunderstood and has therefore not brought the peace and relief that was intended. We hear phrases like “Forgive and Forget” or “God will forgive us because He loves us”. Though these type of phrases are well intended, they do not properly represent the truth about forgiveness. You do not have the power to just forget. You will still remember long after forgiveness has been given. Forgiveness does not wipe the memory, but it justifies the memory. Further, God’s forgiveness is not based on his pity or compassion for us but it is based on the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. If we reject His Son and His work on the cross, we also reject His forgiveness and we remain condemned.
Forgiveness is not excusing the trespass but accepting the cost of the trespass for yourself. Forgiveness is not discounting the trespass as though it doesn’t matter for it does matter. Forgiveness is not overlooking the trespass for the barrier it has brought will continue to grow until it is addressed with forgiveness. Forgiveness is understood as ‘giving forth’ or giving to the extent of the need. Forgiving will cost you something. It not only hurts but also requires something from you that is beyond your human ability. To forgive requires that you go to God to receive the grace and mercy that is required by the offence. It is not a natural thing but is a supernatural response of the Holy Spirit to reach the heart of the offender and to reconcile man to God and man with man.
When we shut up our forgiveness several things happen. First there is a conflict between you and God. To refuse to forgive is a slap in God’s face for what He has done for you. Second, your concern for the offender should be cause enough for you to forgive him. To withhold forgiveness reveals a lack of love for your fellow man as well as a lack of faith in God. Third, when we withhold forgiveness it causes a barrier for us in our growth and we become bitter and the longer it goes on, the more bitter we become. Further, it hinders our spiritual life is every way and we open ourselves up to the tricks of the Devil. There is every reason for us to forgive as it exposes God who lives in us, to the world, it improves our relationships and people skills and equally importantly, it not only improves our disposition and attitude but also settles the war inside of us, restores our joy and peace and builds us in multiple ways. We are all on a journey to our eternal home so lets enjoy the trip.