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teaches us that we must forgive “seventy times seven,” which means we must always forgive. Paul, too, writes that we should bear with one another and forgive one another because, in the same way, God has forgiven us. All of these passages from God’s Word make it very clear that unforgiveness is never an option for the committed believer.
4. The destruction of unforgiveness.
What are the consequences of an unforgiving spirit? Jesus teaches us that God wants to answer our prayers, but that we must first forgive others. If we don’t, it will make us bitter and will affect our prayer life. Likewise, our worship will be affected. Jesus teaches us that when we are in conflict, we are to stop—even in the middle of our worship—and go to set matters right. Our witnessing, our giving, and our overall spiritual growth are terribly weakened by a heart that carries bitterness. Every other aspect of life is affected as well. When we are loaded down with stress, anxiety, and resentment, physical illness may result. Finally, because others don’t enjoy being around bitter people, our relationships are poisoned.
5. Dealing with unforgiveness.
To confront an unforgiving spirit, the first requirement is to take it seriously and assume full responsibility for our own decisions and actions. We acknowledge unforgiveness as a sin and confess it honestly to God. The next step is to lay our anger down—strip it away—because then we can ask God’s forgiveness. After that, we should begin praying for the other person. If that person has been aware of our bitterness, we should go to them and ask their forgiveness. We can live out God’s grace by asking Him to show us something we can do on that person’s behalf—serving them instead of resenting them. Finally, we prevent the devil from trapping us again by refusing to rehash the same old issue or allowing the bitterness to seep back in. This debt must be forgiven and canceled in the same way our sins are.
6. Demonstrating forgiveness.
Some Christians believe they have forgiven the person that’s wronged them, but the roots of bitterness are still deep in their hearts. So how can you know you have truly forgiven someone? There are two indications that you have been obedient to Christ in this area. First, you know you have forgiven when your feelings toward the other person have changed. When you see him or her, you will be aware that the resentment is gone. Second, you know your forgiveness is genuine when you feel concern for the other person—you care about his or her spiritual welfare and you want what is best for him or her.
I have discovered how God blesses us when we choose to forgive others. He removes all the baggage of resentment, malice, and wrath that weighs us down. Then, all the goodness of His righteousness can come flooding into our spirits and our lives can be as joyful and fulfilling
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