Summary: God forgave us our sins so that we can forgive others. It is not always easy, but God expects his children to freely forgive. Unforgiveness is a cancer that eats up the bearer gradually.
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:14-15).
...... forgive, and ye shall be forgiven (Luke 6:37c).
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FORGIVE
To err is human and to forgive is divine. This popular saying is quite true. To forgive means to overlook an offence and treat the offender as not guilty. It is easy to forgive simple offences, but destiny crippling offences are not so easy to forgive.
GOD'S PROVISION FOR MAN'S FORGIVENESS
Forgiveness is however not negotiable for believers. It is one of the hallmarks of a true disciple of Jesus Christ. God knows the frailties of man and made provisions for forgiveness even while men wallow in sin. He did this by sacrificing his only begotten son, Jesus to die on the cross for sinners, so that man can obtain forgiveness for his sins through the blood of Jesus.
"But God commended his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us," (Romans 5:8).
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7).
"To the Lord our God belongs mercies and forgiveness, though we rebelled against him" (Daniel 9:9).
We rebelled against God, but he overlooked our offence and forgave us. The price he paid for that forgiveness to occur is the precious blood of his only begotten son.
Are you still rebelling against God? It is because of you that Christ died. You only need to receive him into your life and believe on his name to be forgiven and reconciled back to God. No matter your offence, God's provision for your forgiveness is sure.
FORGIVEN TO FORGIVE
Because of the great sacrifice God made for the forgiveness of our sins, he demands that we forgive others who trespass against us. This is so important to God that he will not forgive us if we refuse to forgive others.
"But if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:14 -15).
We are forgiven by God to forgive others. Jesus told his disciples, "...forgive, and ye shall be forgiven" (Luke 6:37). Are you a disciple of Christ? You must forgive those that offend you.
The parable of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:23-35) clearly illustrates the displeasure of God when we refuse to forgive our fellow brethren. God forgave us our debt, a debt we could never have paid; but many refuse to forgive their fellow pilgrims for offences of lesser consequence.
FORGIVENESS IS A CHOICE
In Genesis 50: 15-21, the Bible recounts the story of Joseph and his wicked brothers. They sold Joseph to slave merchants because they hated him. He became a slave and suffered unjustly. Several years later, he came face to face with his brothers. He was in a position to destroy them, but he chose to forgive them.
The story of Esau and Jacob is a compelling one. Esau was cheated by Jacob and took the blessings due to the eldest son. Esau vowed to kill Jacob. When they met years later, Esau chose to forgive his brother Jacob (Genesis 33:1-4). Although, Jacob had to pray all night and wrestle with a divine personality to obtain favour in the sight of his brother (Genesis 32:6-7, 11, 24).
Forgiveness is a choice. It is a sacrifice. It is not always easy to forgive. There are some grevious offences that churn the heart of the toughest men, but God expects us to forgive no matter the gravity of the offence.
What if someone kills my only son?
What if someone rapes my daughter or wife?
What if someone deliberately infects me with a disease?
These are heart wrenching situations; questions that are difficult to answer without the help of the Holy Spirit.
God told Paul, "my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weaknesses...."
In very difficult situations, it is important to rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit and depend on the sufficiency of God's grace. May we not receive temptations we cannot overcome in Jesus name.
Like Jacob, we need to pray for God's help to overcome the spirit of rage and vengeance that wells up in us when unpardonable offences (humanly speaking) challenge our faith.
Unforgiveness is detrimental to the physical and spiritual well being of a man. When we refuse to forgive, it might lead to resentment which graduates to anger, malice and even murder. Unforgiveness eats the heart of the bearer. Cain is a typical example. He was chided by God for an unworthy offering and took out his anger on his brother. He had a talk with Abel and was consumed by wrath; he refused to forgive his brother and his boiling anger led him to murder Abel.