The Freedom of Forgiveness
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4: 32 NIV)
One of the most common failures among Christians is the failure to forgive. We are apt to consider an unforgiving spirit to be a “right” in the light of what someone has said or done which has hurt our feelings. When conviction comes to us as the Spirit applies the Scripture to our hearts, we try to argue with the Lord. We say, “That person doesn’t deserve to be forgiven after what he did to me.”
This kind of reasoning is in direct violation of the imperative of our theme verse. Forgiveness is not optional but obligatory. We are not told to forgive if the offender is repentant. Nor are we provided with a condition, i.e., forgive if there is some evidence of remorse. We are essentially taught that our forgiveness is not to be based on any merit found in the offender. This mandate for mercy is removed from any conditional circumstances but is based on our standing with God – forgiven. Unforgiveness is sin.
What condition in the sinner was sufficient to merit the forgiveness of God? It is strictly the mercy of God which provided the basis of forgiveness. His grace was demonstrated in the sacrifice of Christ on behalf of the sinner. The result – we are forgiven! (Check out Ephesians 1: 7, Colossians 2: 13-14). The standard for our forgiveness of others is based on His forgiveness of us. This is declared in the pivotal phrase, “just as.” Our freedom in Christ makes us free to forgive others.
What happens to the unforgiving Christian? He becomes a slave of the unforgiven. His spirit is in bondage to the one he won’t forgive. The conviction of the Holy Spirit presses upon him. By the same token, when forgiveness is granted, the spirit is liberated. There is a tremendous sense of freedom in the heart. Rev. William A. Raws is the grandson of the founder of America’s Keswick. He served at America’s Keswick for 60 years and is now home with the Lord.
Keswick, America’s (2012-12-13). Real Victory for Real Life Volume 2 (Kindle Locations 8189-8209). . Kindle Edition.
Think About This: We do not need much time in order to love God, to renew ourselves in His presence, to lift up our hearts towards Him, to worship Him in the depths of our hearts, to offer Him what we do and what we suffer. This is the true Kingdom of God within us, which nothing can disturb. Francois Fenelon
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all. 1 Thessalonians 3:16