Are You Unwilling to Forgive?


Why do most people find forgiveness difficult? Although Christ gives us clear guidelines in this matter, many people harbor hatred or resentment in their hearts. If we are followers of Christ, can we still carry grudges, resentment, or even hatred in our hearts?

During a revival meeting, a young man knelt at the altar and sought the Lord, but something seemed to be in his way. The preacher asked him a few questions and discovered that the penitent had a hostile relationship with another man who was in the sanctuary. If only this man would leave the room, the penitent was convinced that he could receive forgiveness from God. Don’t many people do the same thing? They make confessions of faith, but do not really attain salvation in Christ. Should not the young man have first gone to his "enemy" to be reconciled with him and then sought reconciliation with Christ?

All people have their faults. Although many people use this fact to shield themselves from blame, they do not realize that this saying also applies to other people. God wants to give us the power to live a victorious life, but we all have our human weaknesses and shortcomings. In spite of our faults, the Apostle Paul exhorts us: "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32).

We have hurt God more than others have hurt us. Christ shows us this truth in Matthew 18. A certain man owed his king ten thousand talents. When the king threatened to sell the man into slavery, the man begged so earnestly for mercy and forgiveness that the king forgave him the debt.

After he was released, the man met one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. The fellow servant begged for mercy just as the man had recently begged for mercy from the king. However, the man did not listen to the servant and had him cast into jail. When the king heard this, he was angry, and severely punished the merciless servant who had received much grace, but had given none.

Are not many people like this merciless servant? After God has forgiven them a very great debt, a debt worthy of eternal damnation, they do not want to forgive those who have wronged them in some small way. Everyone who acts in this way will learn the truth of God’s Word: “Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?” (Matthew 18:33) God’s forgiveness will be denied to everyone who refuses to forgive others.

Everyone must appear before the judgment seat of God. For many people the racket of the business world and the jangling of coins overpower the thunder of the coming judgment. The judgment, however, is a serious matter that no one can escape. How insignificant will the grudges that we held against our neighbors seem! How small will the things that we could not forgive and forget appear! When my father was saved, he had a bitter enemy. But he forgave him. One day, my father took this man aside and begged him to seek God’s forgiveness as well. I will never forget how urgently my father begged him not to put off his salvation. Ignoring these pleas, this man told my father, “Willi, I cannot forgive others the way you have forgiven me. There is one man I can never forgive.” I never saw the man again. Three months later, he lay dying. He asked his wife, who was once saved but had backslidden, to pray for him. She wrung her hands, but she could not pray. Finally, he went into eternity unprepared to meet his Judge.

God will reward. When our hearts are filled with the love of Jesus, we will not wish or do any person evil. We should always remember that God sees everything and that in the end He will judge justly. Even if we face great injustice, we must not seek revenge. God Himself will ensure that justice is done. He says: "Vengeance is mine; I will repay" (Hebrews 10:30).

If we do not forgive, God will not forgive us. Many people pray: “Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). When we pray this, we ask God not to forgive us if we are not willing to forgive others. Every day this prayer is said by many people who are not willing to forgive others. What a terrible thought! The Lord Jesus clearly said that those who are not willing to forgive others cannot receive forgiveness. At the end of the parable of the unforgiving servant He says, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses” (Matthew 18:35).

Love is not an empty word: it is the very essence of God and our only hope for eternal life. If the love of God lives in our hearts, then it will not be difficult for us to forgive. However, if this love is not in our hearts, are we really God’s children?

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