Nelson Mandela, who fought or struggled (flag carrier) for the civil rights of black people, was imprisoned for twenty-seven long years. He explained, “When I was released from my imprisonment, as I was moving toward the main gate of the jail, I was thinking that on the other side of this gate, freedom is waiting for me.” He further said, “If on this occasion, I do not leave behind my inner bitterness, anger and hate then I would be a prisoner even today.”
When we forgive someone, we in fact release a prisoner. After forgiving, we come to know that I myself was a prisoner.
The Rabbis, the teachers of the Jews advise them, if someone does a wrong against you, you should not forgive him once but thrice. When Peter asked Lord Jesus Christ, if my brother commits a sin against me, how many times should I forgive him? Should I forgive him seven times?
“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?”
Matthew 18:21 KJV
From his side he showed a great generosity. He instead of forgiving thrice, he talked about forgiving seven times.
“Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”
Matthew 18:22 KJV
By this Lord Jesus Christ meant, forgiving others is not a one-time task but it should be the whole life style and attitude. We must be willing to forgive other all the times.
What do we mean by forgiveness?
Forgiveness is not to forget the wrong doings of the other person but from our heart to root out the anger. As long as we do not we do not do so, it stays in us like termite and cancer and harms us greatly.
Someone has said, “forgiveness is not an act which we do for other but we do this for our own betterment, so that we may be on the right track mentally and psychologically and move on in our life.”
Why forgiveness is necessary?
Let us see for few moments that why forgiveness is necessary? If we claim to be the disciples of Lord Jesus Christ and we do not forgive others then we are on the wrong side. While we say Lord’s Prayer we often say these word without thinking over them, “as we forgive our debtors, you also forgive us”.
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
Matthew 6:12 KJV
“and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.”
Matthew 6:12 ISV
If we honestly examine ourselves, so do I really forgive others? Can we deceive God?
Do we really not forgiving one another in a real sense and saying these words to God and hope for his forgiveness? No. Never. As long as we do not forgive others, God will not be willing to forgive us. At last why the forgiveness is so necessary? In fact this proves that we really love God and do his will. We can have the mind of Christ when we have the heart to forgive.
When Christ was crucified on the Cross, this was his first task that he forgave those who crucified him.
“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
Luke 23:34 KJV
What a beautiful and great is the reality , Lord Jesus Christ did not wait for those who crucified him to feel regret or ashamed and then ask forgiveness from Lord Jesus Christ, but he himself forgave them and established a precious and unfailing and never ending example of forgiveness.
In our lives we claim that we will forgive the other person we first wait he should come and accept his wrong doings, ask forgiveness then I will forgive him. Sometimes we forgive but to every second person we meet, we explain in details that what the other person did to me. We judge in a very strong fashion and then in a proudly manner we say, “How generous I am, I have forgiven that person.”
“We forgive other people from the superficial level but from deep down our heart we do not forgive. It is like this that a prisoner is pardoned but he is not set free.”
Is it truly the forgiving others?
Does Lord Jesus Christ offer us such forgiveness?
Does he remind us time and again that in spite of all these sins, I have forgiven you?
“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us?”
Psalm 103:12 KJV
In the same way Peter denied his Teacher, his Master and his Lord thrice before his crucifixion.
We read this incident in Matthew 26: 69-75
“Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.”
Matthew 26:69 KJV
“But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.”
Matthew 26:70 KJV
“And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.”
Matthew 26:71 KJV
“And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.”
Matthew 26:72 KJV
“And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.”
Matthew 26:73 KJV
“Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.”
Matthew 26:74 KJV
“And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.”
Matthew 26:75 KJV
When Jesus Christ met Peter after his resurrection, he did not remind Peter about his denial even once.
But he asked Peter three times oh Simon son of Jonas, do you love me more than these?
We read this in John 21: 15-17
“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.”
John 21:15 KJV
“He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”
John 21:16 KJV
“He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”
John 21:17 KJV
Dear friend, it is very essential to forgive the trespasses, wrong doings and sins of other people because first God has forgiven our sins. Due to that divine forgiveness God wants, we should also not once, nor thrice, nor seven times but must be ready to forgive others all the times. That is why it is very important to forgive because the holy word of God teaches us so and this is also the will of God.
Advantages of forgiving others.
The followings are the advantages of forgiving others:
(1) By forgiving we are revived and restored in our spiritual life.
(2) Forgiveness opens the door of freedom in our life.
(3) We cannot have the experience of abundant life without receiving and offering forgiveness.
(4) Only after forgiving, we feel that a great burden has been removed from us.
Disadvantages of not forgiving others.
(1) Our unforgiving attitude hinders God to forgive our sins
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:”
Matthew 6:14 KJV
(2) By not forgiving other we provide an opportunity to the devil.
(3) When we do o not forgive, then God stops the answer of our prayers.
“And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Mark 11:25 KJV
(4) By not forgiving we become fruitless spiritually.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,”
Gal 5:22 KJV
“Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
Gal 5:23 KJV
(5) The unforgiving attitude leads us to mental, physical, psychological and emotional disorders.
(6) we can be never happy, if we do not forgive.
“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.”
Php 4:4 KJV
“Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.”
Php 4:5 KJV
How should we forgive?
It is not an easy task to forgive. Our human nature stirs us up or motivates us to take revenge but God teaches us that it is his job to take revenge.
“For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.”
Heb 10:30 KJV
We should forgive for the sake of our well-being and betterment and we will be acceptable in the sight of God but the question arises that how should we forgive others?
Let us see some pointers.
- Ask grace from God the things which we cannot do, God can do those things for us.
- Pray whole heartedly for this matter.
- Think for few moments for the great forgiveness that Jesus has offered you.
- Always keep in mind the human weakness and inability; you can also make a mistake.
- Think about it that by forgiving others, I will have the advantage.
- Keep this thing in your mind that by forgiving others you will be restored spiritually.
If we have enmity, hatred and bitterness in our heart, if someone has hurt our feelings, if someone has given us pain or tortured us. Now it is the time to forgive him or her right now and release yourself from your prison.
May God the father though the Holy Spirit grant you grace to have the mind of Christ. Amen.
Pastor Robinson Samuel Gill.