And forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.
God can not forgive us if we will not forgive others. This is not God holding us to ransom, trying to turn us in to good Christians. Rather, God knows what unforgiveness does to us. Forgiving others is as much about us as it is about the person we need to forgive.
Unforgiveness keeps us connected to the person who has hurt us and attaches us to bitterness, resentment, pain and trauma. These things are not only emotionally and spiritually damaging, but they can affect our physical health.
God knows that unforgiveness causes a blockage between us and Him. It affects our relationship with him. How can we fully receive God's’ forgiveness and experience the fullness that it brings, if we are not free to receive it?
Unforgiveness takes up space in our hearts that God desires access to. Unforgiveness leaves us open to the enemy having a foothold. It might start off as a small seed. However, if left unattended, offence can grow without us even giving it a thought. Suddenly an area of our life is overcome with bitterness, self doubt, disappointment and lack of trust, all because we have not dealt with unforgiveness.
Is there anyone you need to forgive?
If you can still recall something someone said to you, or you still feel hurt from a past incident, there is probably unforgiveness that needs to be dealt with. Or do you need to forgive yourself?
If you ask God for forgiveness, you are not only forgiven, but God no longer remembers your sin. By not forgiving yourself you are keeping your guilt and pain alive when, in God's eyes, it no longer exists.
Ask God to bring to mind someone that you are holding unforgivingness towards (known or unknown). Ask Him to help you forgive that person.
Forgiveness is not a one-stop shop, Jesus died for our sins, past, present and future. God is continually forgiving us and we need to continually forgive others. That might mean forgiving the same person for the same thing on a daily basis for years, depending on how deeply they have hurt us.
Forgiveness is a choice. The first time we do it, it may just feel like words. Or, we think we have forgiven, but a day later we find ourselves recalling what that person did to us. We have to choose to keep forgiving. You know you have forgiven someone when you are able to pray for them to be blessed.
If there is someone you are struggling to forgive, declare out loud their name and that you forgive them. Pray for that person daily, for blessings and favour for them.
Justice is for God
Forgiving someone is not the same as saying that what they have done to us is OK. You might be in a situation where it would be unwise and perhaps unsafe to continue being in a relationship with a friend or even a family member due to what they have done. Sometimes the pain people have inflicted on us is life changing. They are not things we can just easily forget about and there are certain situations where it would be unwise to do so.
In God’s eyes, there are no different levels of sin. He forgave and forgives all sins equally. We would all fall short of the glory of God if even the lowest measure was used so there can be no levels to sin. For some of us that is quite a painful truth; how can God forgive a murderer or an abuser? Is God saying that what they have done is OK?
No, of course not, God is a just God! Sometimes we struggle to forgive because it feels so unjust to do so, but God is our judge. It is not our job to seek punishment for other people's sins. God calls us to forgive with no exception. Thus, we have to trust that He has given us everything we need in order to do that. And He has; He has given us His Holy Spirit.
If there is a person or situation that you feel like you can not forgive, ask the Holy Spirit to help you, to free you from trauma and pain. Ask the Holy Spirit to enable you to forgive, to be released from that person and that past situation. Ask the Holy Spirit for freedom and hope for the future.